On Wednesday 17th February, AFNOR Certification awarded AFAQ ISO 50001 certification to EDF, in recognition of the energy performance of its data centers, heralding a first for the fast-growing use of data centres driven by the explosion in digital technologies.
In EDF’s eyes, COP21 goes hand-in-hand with ISO 50001. To illustrate its commitment to promoting low-carbon technologies, the energy utility decided to give all its data centres an in-depth review according to ISO 50001, the international voluntary standard that specifies the guidelines for an effective energy management system based on the principle of continual improvement.
Data centers are large facilities that house remote computer servers. Their energy requirements (i.e. electricity) are high, since the rooms hosting the machines need to be air-conditioned to counter the heat generated by the Joule effect. On Wednesday 17th February, one of its cutting-edge data centers – a 15,000 m² site called Noé in Val-de-Reuil (Eure region) – set the scene for EDF to receive AFAQ ISO 50001 certification in recognition of its effective energy management system for all its data centers.
A reduction of 3,400 tonnes of CO2
“The highest operating expense for a site such as Noé is electricity consumption, which explains why we are committed to pursuing an energy eco-efficiency policy,” advises EDF, whose CEO, Jean-Bernard Lévy, personally attended the ceremony to receive the certificate. The Group estimates that some 9 % of the electricity in France is used by data centres, since they operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
In 2015, the annual electricity consumption of EDF’s two data centres in Normandy reached 70 GWh. Over the next two years, EDF is aiming to halve the power used by each server compared to 2011 (year in which ISO 50001 was published). The energy saved could reduce CO2 emissions by 3,400 tonnes, i.e. the equivalent of 1,120 flights between Paris and Tokyo. To realize its ambitions, EDF has come up with three solutions: implement leading-edge technologies (wireless sensors, LED lighting, etc.), deploy cloud computing applications for sharing server capacities (such as by grouping applications together), and draw in the outside air to lower the temperature of the water in the server cooling system.
In terms of measuring performance, there is only one official indicator, which is actually covered by a new international standard: Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). The ideal data centre should achieve a PUE of 1: the only power used would be by the computer servers, without any use of air conditioning. The Noé data centre currently has a PUE of 1.74.
EDF has already lowered the energy consumption at its two data centres in Normandy by 10 GWh since 2014, meaning that the utility has made progress in its aim of achieving a new reduction of 40 % per server by 2018. “Your measurements have shown that you are currently halfway there. During the next surveillance audit, we will check the power saved by your energy management system,” said Franck Lebeugle, Managing Director of AFNOR Certification, when addressing the teams receiving the certificate in Val-de-Reuil. He continued: “This initiative shows the EDF Group’s commitment to tackle climate change and reflects its ability to innovate by using digital technologies to move energy transition forward. ”
This latest certification marks another chapter in the long history shared by AFNOR Certification and EDF. AFNOR Certification awarded its first certificate to EDF over 15 years ago. Since 2009, AFNOR Certification has certified the EDF Group’s ISO 14001 environmental management system, as well as the ISO 9001 and/or OHSAS 18001 initiatives of its support and production functions. Although AFNOR Certification has already awarded AFAQ ISO 50001 certification to other companies for their data centres, EDF stands out by combining both ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 for its data centres.
Guaranteed French Origin
Finally, AFNOR Certification has awarded the “France Origine Garantie” label to the guarantees of origin issued by EDF to confirm that the utility generates “green” electricity in due proportion to the amounts subscribed by its customers in their “green” electricity purchase agreements. The “Origine France Garantie” label certifies that the electricity generated from renewable energy sources is 100 % French, namely from EDF’s hydroelectric plants across the country.