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 is in need of 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 down to four solid concepts, which they refined into focused business propositions. Each team built a 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 plan of action.
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 wining 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.