Dutch Data Centres Seek Government Help Over Rising Prices

The United Kingdom is not alone contending with the surging price of electricity and gas around the world.

Surging electricity prices in Holland are hurting smaller data centre operators in the Netherlands, an industry association was quoted by Reuters as saying on Monday.

The association has reportedly called for financial support from the Dutch government.

Dutch data centres

Power consumption and managing electricity costs has always been a major issue for data centre operators, but the soaring rise in wholesale gas prices, coupled with a very stressed global supply chain due to the Coronavirus pandemic, has added to the misery.

Indeed, the cost of gas for suppliers has increased by 250 percent since the start of the year, which is drastically pushing up electricity costs around the world.

UK households have been warned their energy bills could rise by as much as 12 percent, as suppliers and businesses pass the higher energy costs onto households.

But it is not just British households that feeling the pain.

The Dutch Data Center Association, according to Reuters, has asked political leaders in Holland to cap electricity prices, provide corporate tax breaks, or introduce subsidies in support of businesses investing in cleaner energy.

“Nearly every business relies on a data centre, so they shouldn’t take this lightly,” the association’s spokesperson, Stijn Grove, was quoted as saying. “This is a sector of critical importance. We should not wait too long to do something about these prices because there could be a knock-on effect.”

Vulnerable operators

In the Netherlands, approximately 60 data centre operators make up around 2.3 percent of national electricity consumption, which makes these operators vulnerable to recent energy price spikes.

Grove reportedly said that larger companies are less vulnerable to price fluctuations, but smaller companies generally do not hedge against energy costs.

These smaller operators are now being forced to pass these rising costs along to clients and scale back investments.

“A price increase of nearly tenfold is causing cashflow problems and is also problematic for investments in sustainable energy projects,” Grove reportedly said. “They are coming under pressure at these levels because you need to have that cash.”

Longest power cable

The UK meanwhile continues expanding its power options.

Earlier this month, the world’s longest under-sea electricity cable, officially began operation.

The 450-mile (725km) cable between Norway and the UK is capable of transferring green power both ways, the BBC reported.

At full 1,400 megawatt capacity it will import enough hydro-power from Norway to supply 1.4 million homes, National Grid reportedly said.

Hydropower in Norway and wind power in the UK are of course subject to weather conditions and fluctuations in demand.

The idea with the cable is that renewable power can be imported or exported to both countries when needed. For example, when wind generation is plentiful in the UK and electricity demand is low, excess power can be supplied to Norway.

Likewise, when demand is high in the UK, power can be imported from Norway.

There are said to be four other National Grid power cables running to Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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