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Make data green in our Green Data Centre Hackathon

By EDF | Posted March 10, 2023

Everything that makes up our digital world, from cat videos to wind turbine sensor data, is stored in a data centre somewhere. These data centres use electricity to power and cool their computers, and the never-ending growth in data means that data centres now consume around 5% of the UK’s electricity. The data centre industry needs radical support to help it decarbonise, and EDF UK wants to be the go-to partner of choice. But how to build a winning position in the burgeoning market? That was the question presented to participants at EDF UK R&D’s two-day Green Data Centre hackathon.

The hackathon brought together a diverse set of skills and knowledge with people from across EDF UK: Imtech, Inviron, Capula, EDF Renewables UK&I, Energy Business Solutions, Wholesale Market Services, Urbanomy, EDF UK R&D and EDF R&D. Working in four teams, they interviewed customers and industry experts before brainstorming practical ideas. From a long list of 80 ideas, they focussed on four solid concepts, which they refined into focused business propositions. Each team built a business model, a business plan and a pitch deck. The event culminated with pitches to a panel of senior leaders from across EDF UK.

So, what were the ideas?

- Team 1: a new, dedicated business unit offering an end-to-end solution, crucially including consulting at the design stage.

- Team 2: a community-focused collaborative business with a strong emphasis on capturing and using heat.

- Team 3: a private wire connection between an EDF nuclear power plant and data centres, providing guaranteed 24/7 clean electricity.

- Team 4: A data centre of excellence, built on one of our decommissioned sites, with a low carbon technology test centre.

The overall winner was team 2, but the pitch jury noted that they were inspired by elements of each.

The next step will be to combine the key elements into a clear action plan.

This event is part of EDF UK’s new innovation strategy and roadmap, which builds on innovations being developed within business units and research conducted by R&D. The goal of the strategy and roadmap is to explore and develop winning positions in big, cross-cutting opportunities. Green data centres are the perfect example, and this hackathon is the first step in our roadmap this year.