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Energy crisis expected to impact net zero plans - Schneider Electric
Fri, 8th Sep 2023

81% of business leaders at UK and Irish data centres say the energy crisis will impact their organisation’s ability to meet its emissions reduction plans, according to research published by Schneider Electric, the specialist in the digital transformation of energy management and automation.

Of that figure, around half of organisations say they are delaying planned investment in sustainability and net zero plans (49%). Four in ten of the same organisations (40%) say they now have more immediate business challenges to meet while 43% claim that emission reduction targets are no longer an issue for their stakeholders. More than one in five (22%) of these firms claim that taking practical action to meet targets is difficult.

Decarbonisation helps businesses reduce energy use and lower energy costs at a time when energy prices remain volatile, Schneider Electric states.

Crucially, the survey of more than 1,500 large organisations reveals that business leaders still recognise the importance of working to emissions reduction targets, as nearly one third (32%) of data centre business leaders believe that climate change and net zero ambitions will become more of a priority over the next three years. Only a small minority (11%) believe that national net zero commitments will be diluted in that time.

Mark Yeeles, Vice President, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric UK and Ireland, comments, “Business leaders tell us that the energy crisis should be seen alongside the many other challenges they have faced over the last twelve months, including economic pressures, cyber security and skills shortages. Yet our research suggests that some of the UK and Ireland’s data centres are ‘kicking the carbon emissions can down the road’, as a result of the energy crisis."

Yeeles continues, “As fears grow about progress against global commitments made under the Paris Agreement, and the UK’s Climate Change Committee warns of a lack of progress on emissions cuts, the UK and Ireland need data centres to play their part and stick to their net zero and emissions reduction targets."

The survey also reveals that 32% of data centre managers believe that energy prices will fall over the next three years, while more than seven out of ten (71%) think their organisation will still be addressing the energy crisis in 12 months’ time.

Presenting the survey findings, Yeeles urged data centres to re-engage with their emissions reduction ambitions: “It’s not all doom and gloom: as our research shows, business leaders still believe in their climate change ambitions - they simply need to push the subject back up the corporate agenda.

“The technology required to help businesses decarbonise is already available – and the return on investment for these solutions has never been more attractive, with payback periods measured in months rather than years. Organisations still have time to meet their net zero commitments by understanding and addressing energy use, investing in renewable energy and energy saving technology, and embedding sustainability and carbon reduction targets in their business plans,” he adds.

“What’s more, those that invest in green skills and green jobs will reap the rewards of a diverse workforce for decades to come. At Schneider Electric, we’ve seen this for ourselves through our apprenticeship and graduate programmes.”