Join in the Energy Revolution Actively----China Energy News Feature of Alex Ju, Founder of Chindata Group

2020-06-08

Join in the Energy Revolution Actively

Explore the Synergetic Development Path of Renewable Energy and Data Center Proactively


Promoting the energy consumption reform, energy supply revolution, energy technology reform, and energy system revolution, and strengthening international cooperation in all respects are new requirements for energy-related work in the new era. It is reasonable that we should give play to the leading strategic emerging industries such as new infrastructure, implement the overall requirements of the energy revolution, continue to promote the adjustment and optimization of the industrial structure in line with the deployment objective of energy revolution's "close integration with other fields of high and new technology, and cultivate energy technology and related industries to drive China's industrial upgrade. In recent years, Chindata Group has taken the initiative to join in the energy revolution. With the next generation hyperscale data centers as its bedrock, it has made myriad of efforts to promote the transformation of local industrial structure and promote the development of new infrastructure, and has achieved certain results. To this end, our journalist recently interviewed Alex Ju, CEO of Chindata Group.


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China Energy News:What does the energy revolution and the "four revolutions, one cooperation" new energy security strategy mean to data center industry?

Alex Ju:The new energy security strategy of "Four Revolutions and One Cooperation" profoundly reveals the general trend and logic of the world's energy development, and manifests the characteristics, laws and tendency of China's energy development in the new era. It is of great significance to promote the high-quality development of the energy industry.


With the deepening of the current energy revolution and the further advancement of comprehensive energy revolution pilots, data center, as one of the core industries of the "new infrastructure", has made great considerable achievements in achieving "four revolutions and one cooperation".


On one hand, as an industry with high energy consumption, the energy cost of the data center accounts for more than half of the total OPEX in the entire 10-year life cycle. Taking the initiative to participate in the energy revolution is not only a gesture of social responsibility from data center enterprises and individual industries, but is the only path for the digital economy industry to develop, reduce costs and increase efficiency. On the other hand, as a typical" new infrastructure" industry with high energy consumption, data centers are at the strategic intersection of the energy reform and emerging strategic industries. With the "new infrastructure" represented by data centers and 5G, data centers have become the an important driving force for economic development, encouraging data center enterprises to increase investment in energy efficiency related technology research and development, and increase the proportion of renewable energy use, especially to encourage the neutral third-party hyperscale data center cluster development, and actively explore the operation of “generation-transmission-consumption” trinity of infrastructure renewable energy. The operation of a zero-carbon information infrastructure will also further promote the energy technology revolution and the energy system revolution from the demand side.


China Energy News:What did Chindata Group do to join in the Engergy Revolution?

Alex Ju: As the first data center enterprise in China that promises to source 100% renewable energy as its development goal, Chindata Group attaches great importance to the in-depth integration of renewable energy and data centers, providing both digital leaders and their customers with inclusive and solid digital pillar, and enhances the level of on-site consumption of areas abundant with renewable energies and promotes the green development of local economic transformation.


First, aim at areas with rich renewable energies. In the strategic site selection stage of the hyperscale data center, Chindata Group chose key locations around the megatropolis where energy, data and customer needs can be met "triple-in-one", fully exerting cost advantage of the land, power and network connectivity around core cities, to further realize product inclusion, and reduce the cost of digital economy development. At present, Chindata Group plans, constructs, and operates a dozen of hyperscale data center campuses in China, most of which are concentrated in areas rich in renewable energy such as Shanxi and Hebei, which provides the necessary conditions for sustainable reduction of energy costs. 


Second, attach equal importance to the supply and consumption of renewable energy. With the support of governments and energy supply companies at all levels, Chindata Group pays attention to the connection among renewable energy supply, exclusive user substations and highly efficient data center premises. It strives to ensure the full supply of energy while adopting innovative design, continuously optimizes energy efficiency, with a view to achieving the strategic goal of using 100% renewable energy at an early date. Taking Chindata Group's next generation hyperscale data center in Datong, Shanxi as an example, by virtue of the local rich wind resource, photovoltaic power and other new energy advantages, phase one and phase two of the Capital-rim Taihang Mountain Energy Information Technology Industrial Campus has successfully achieved turning local affluent wind power and photovoltaic into high-efficiency computing capacity in 2019. It has effectively promoted the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei digital economy industry, and has become an exemplary case of energy transmission to computing power.


Third, actively explore the combination solution of renewable energy and data centers. Our country's renewable energy consumption level has made great progress in the course of the energy reform but it still faces problems such as reliance on subsidies, difficulty in connecting to the grid, and superfluous wind and limiting electricity. To the bottom of it, the supply and consumption of renewable energy have not yet yeasted a synergy with the increasingly mature, large-scale, and emerging energy-intensive strategic emerging industries such as data centers. Since its establishment, Chindata Group has actively explored ways for enterprises to fully participate in the revolution of renewable energy, participate in power station development, seek clean energy investment, and create 100% clean energy local supply and consumption closed loop as the "generation-transport-use" zero-carbon data center. A few days ago, we signed an agreement on development and investment land with the Xinrong District of Datong City and the People's Government of Lingqiu County, where we plan to invest in mounted capacity of 400MW in total.


China Energy News: What made you think that Shanxi Province is an ideal place to develop next-generation hyperscale data center?

Alex Ju: Shanxi Province is rich in renewable energy resources with superior development conditions. In recent years, it has continued to expand the installed capacity of renewable energy. The scale of photovoltaic power generation leader bases even ranks the first in the country. According to the latest data, in 2019, Shanxi's wind power and photovoltaic installations both exceeded 10 million kilowatts, accounting for 25.3% of the province's total installed power supply; Shanxi power grid's wind power and photovoltaic utilization rates reached 98.87% and 99.84%, respectively. According to the construction goal of the comprehensive reform of Shanxi's energy revolution, Shanxi's green energy installed capacity will strive to reach 40% by 2025, and it is expected that wind and solar installed capacity will reach 64 million kilowatts.The Capital-rim Taihang Mountain Energy Information Technology Industrial Base, located in Datong, Shanxi Province, is being built into China's first 100% renewable energy stable supply information technology industrial campus. Its first and second phases have been put into operation in 2019, and the third and fourth phases of the project are expected to be put into operation within this year. The campus has a construction scale of 500 acres in the first phase and 2500 acres in the long-term planning. After all is completed and put into production, it will boast more than 20 hyperscale data center assets; it will become the largest single data center industrial campus in the country and even the Asia-Pacific region, not least the most important core node of Chindata hyperscale data center eco-industrial cluster layout in the country and Capital-rim regions.


China Energy News:In your opinion, how can we better, under the framework of the energy revolution, promote the "new infrastructure" such as data centers to participate in the reform of energy marketization, and deepen the integration of renewable energy and data center under this context?

 Alex Ju: Judging from the prevailing practices of the global data center industry, its huge energy demand often makes it actively involved in energy investment activities. Digital infrastructure giants such as Amazon and Google have direct investment or holding of renewable energy projects in many places around the world. 


In China, data center industry is in a stage of rapid development. Since the Politburo meeting in March this year emphasized the construction of new infrastructure such as data centers, data centers have become increasingly prominent in the national economy. In view of the demand side, it is imperative to accelerate the data center industry's participation in energy market reform and build an exclusive energy mechanism that is suitable for the healthy development of data center and facilitate the configuration of renewable energy compatible with data centers.

 

First, data center enterprises are encouraged to participate in direct investment in renewable energy. Data center enterprises is permissible to directly participate in renewable energy investment, which can not only share original capital pressure of renewable energy investment, but also further improve the quality of the digital economy by virtue of the short cycle of renewable energy construction through existing distribution network system, direct supply of green and low-cost power for data center enterprises.

Second, promote the diversification and fairness of energy investment entities. It is uplifting to see the opinion clearly made out in the new version of the "Energy Law": "Investors engaged in energy development and utilization activities should compete fairly, and their legitimate rights and interests are protected by law", "Encourage all types of investment entities’ equal participation in energy development and utilization activities and infrastructure construction according to law", which means the energy sector is fully open to private capital and foreign investment in spite of different ownership.

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