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Digital infrastructure expansion: new energy-efficient data centre in Frankfurt metro region

Published: 12.11.2020 Some 300 guests attended a virtual opening ceremony via live stream at the end of October 2020 to mark the launch of the new MAIN DC data centre in Offenbach, Germany, following a construction period of around a year. Tech companies around the world will benefit from the new capacity it provides.

The centre is located on the campus of energy supplier Energieversorgung Offenbach (EVO) – in close proximity to one of the most important Internet exchange points in the world (Frankfurt-based DE-CIX). This ensures that the data centre has a fast connection to global data streams. KfW IPEX-Bank provided the EUR 117 million needed to finance the data centre, with the total investment volume coming to around EUR 160 million.

A statement from Hesse’s Minister of Economics, Tarek Al-Wazir, emphasises that IT and data communications have become critical economic infrastructure – and not only in the Rhine-Main metropolitan region. “Data centres also attract other companies, whose business models are based on digital processes,” Al-Wazir explains.

Offenbach’s mayor, Dr Felix Schwenke, agrees: “These days, high-speed Internet is the lifeblood of the economy”. A modern hub for production and services requires powerful data lines and sufficient data storage systems, he adds.

The new data centre premises span 7,800 square metres, while the building complex as a whole takes up a gross floor area of 22,000 square metres. The facilities housing the computer systems and servers are approximately 8,000 square metres in size – and are home to around 3,300 computer racks.

“In a world where there are countless employees working remotely from one day to the next, where schoolchildren are learning online, where meetings are only held using video conferencing, we need to have a powerful data infrastructure at our disposal,” stresses Dr Christoph Meier, CEO of EVO. No stone has been left unturned when it comes to designing and operating the data centre in the most environmentally friendly manner possible, he notes. “More than anything else, we do that by ensuring server cooling is managed as effectively as possible, because it’s the cooling that consumes the most energy.” All in all, the data centre will have a maximum PUE (power usage effectiveness) rating of 1.3, Dr Meier adds, explaining that a lower value indicates a data centre running more effectively. “That puts us well below the German average. We’re helping to ensure that the expansion of the data centre will not lead to a proportional increase in its energy consumption.”

Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, the work has proceeded without major disruptions and has remained on schedule.