The Road to Net Zero: Kao Data Becomes First UK Data Centre to Transition from Diesel to Renewable HVO Fuel

Kao Data has announced it has taken a further step towards its Net Zero ambitions by becoming the UK’s first data centre to transition all backup generators at its Harlow campus to HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) fuel. This pioneering move, made possible by partnering with Crown Oil, means Kao Data will eliminate up to 90% of net CO2 from their backup generators and significantly reduce nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and carbon monoxide emissions.

Today Kao Data delivers one of the UK’s most sustainable colocation data centre campuses. Its existing initiatives include using 100% renewable energy, utilising 100% refrigerant-free indirect evaporative cooling technologies and incorporating hyperscale inspired design to deliver a market-leading PUE of <1.2, even at partial loads. In line with its commitments as a signatory of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP), the use of Crown Oil HVO fuel marks another significant step in the company’s plans to become a fully carbon-neutral data centre operator by 2030. 

HVO is one of the cleanest fuels on the market and is a second-generation, advanced renewable diesel alternative. Synthesised from vegetable oils using a specialist hydrotreatment process, HVO has been designed to combat the performance inadequacies of earlier biofuels. It offers improved burning efficiency, delivering the same level of resilience as traditional fossil fuels. Kao Data will replace an initial 45,000L of diesel and switch to an HVO provision of more than 750,000L when the campus is fully developed. Using HVO also offers a number of additional benefits in respect of infrastructure reliability. It eliminates microbial growth which generates sludge that can contaminate fuel lines and potentially lead to engine shut down.

Furthermore, HVO requires no modification to existing infrastructure and can be used as a direct replacement for diesel. It has a storage life that is 10 times that of standard diesel and offers resilient, year-round performance in both low and high temperatures. It is also easier to maintain, free from aromatics, sulphur and metals, odourless and completely biodegradable. 

Simon Lawford, Technical Sales Manager, Crown Oil, said, “HVO fuel is dramatically better for the environment compared to traditional, mineral diesels. It is 100% renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and non-toxic. We’re proud to have worked with Kao Data to initiate a first-of-its-kind project, which will be transformative for the data centre industry, and help point the way forward for significant reductions in industrial greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gérard Thibault, Chief Technology Officer at Kao Data, said, “This pioneering approach to replace our generator’s diesel provision with HVO fuel, is a key step in the company’s efforts to become Net Zero, and a further demonstration of our leadership in the international data centre sustainability field. This move effectively eliminates fossil fuels from our data centre operations and helps us reduce Scope 3 emissions in our customers’ supply chain while delivering no degradation to the service they receive. Most importantly, it shows how our industry can take a simple and highly beneficial step forward for the good of the environment, ahead of COP26.”

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