An important contribution to the security of the power supply of the German energy system is the saving and efficient use of energy.
The operation of data centres, in particular, is electricity-intensive. Three percent of the annual electricity consumption in Germany is caused by data centres.
In Frankfurt am Main, data centres now consume more electricity than Frankfurt Airport, the second largest commercial electricity consumer in the region. At the same time, the city of Frankfurt has set itself the goal of halving energy consumption by 2050 and feeding it from renewable energies.
The new Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG), which was passed by the Bundestag in September 2023, is now intended to contribute to reducing energy consumption in Germany.
Among other things, it sets requirements for energy efficiency in the construction and operation of data centres and for the use of renewable electricity. Data centre operators must therefore pay attention to the following in particular:
- Data centres must introduce an energy and environmental management system. For data centres with a rated non-redundant power of one megawatt or more (a threshold of 300 kilowatts applies to publicly operated data centres), the energy or environmental management system must be validated and certified from 2026
- Operators must cover 50 percent of their electricity consumption on a balance sheet basis with electricity from renewable energies from 1 January 2024, and 100 percent from 2027.
- In addition, the efficient use of waste heat is a central point of the Act. In future, data centres must avoid waste heat as far as possible and reuse the resulting waste heat where possible.
- A mandatory energy consumption effectiveness factor or Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is introduced for data centres, differentiating between data centres that start or have started operations before and after 1 July 2026. Data centres that began operations before 1 July 2026 must comply with a PUE of 1.5 as of July 2027; as of July 2030, a PUE of 1.3. For newer data centres, a PUE of 1.2 applies.
The new EnEfG brings with it new obligations and challenges. This is especially the case given that the EnEfG provides for fines if requirements are not implemented. The maximum fines are € 50,000 or € 100,000, depending on the violation. For data centre operators, however, it also offers opportunities for innovation, sustainability, and ultimately ESG compliance.
Therefore, proactively addressing the requirements of the Act and developing strategies for energy efficiency and waste heat utilisation are essential for data centre operators. Reed Smith is happy to advise you on how to comply with the Act, understand it, and implement the necessary measures.