Compiled by Eamonn Ryan

Data centre operators are under increasing pressure to meet sustainability goals and address their carbon footprint.

Mourad Younes, C&SP Segment leader, MEA at Schneider Electric.

Mourad Younes, C&SP Segment leader, MEA at Schneider Electric. Supplied by Schneider Electric

According to Harvard Business Review, 99% of large company CEOs agree that sustainability forms a vital part of their business’ future success.

Furthermore, 75% of investment executives agree that a company’s sustainability performance is important when making investment decisions, says MIT Sloan Management. Establishing sustainable data centre operations should be a prominent driver in organisations’ efforts to meet their net zero goals.

Data centre sustainability was also an ever-pervasive theme at the most recent AfricaCom, the continent’s premier technology and telecommunications event, held on 14–16 November 2023 at the CTICC in Cape Town. At AfricaCom, Schneider Electric showcased its prefabricated modular and micro data centres which are optimised for scalable and sustainable operations.

Mourad Younes, C&SP Segment leader, MEA at Schneider Electric addressed delegates at AfricaCom discussing the topic Powering the Digital Age: Exploring Next-Generation Data Centre Solutions.

In his presentation, Mourad spoke to the fact that “Data centre operators around the world are increasingly recognising the imperative of sustainability, and Schneider Electric is at the forefront of this transformation, offering solutions that enable data centres to operate energy efficiently while meeting organisations’ net zero goals.”

“Our TradeOff tool for Data Centre Lifecycle Carbon Assessment, for example, enables operators to calculate a datacentre’s lifecycle carbon footprint based on various attributes, such as cooling characteristics, IT capacity, load ratio, equipment specifications and power characteristics,” explained Mourad.

Further, “The seismic shift brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst, propelling us into an era of intensified digitalisation. Face-to-face interactions waned, replaced by a surge in the use of digital devices for meeting management and collaboration. This digital metamorphosis in turn triggered an energy transition, calling for an unprecedented demand for electrification, cooling included.”


The trajectory from 2020 to 2030 is marked by an astronomical growth in connected products, with the proliferation of IoT devices and remote infrastructures. This surge is projected to be six times that of previous years. Simultaneously, the growth of IP traffic is set to skyrocket, posing a 140-fold increase from 2020 to 2030. These staggering statistics highlight the impending surge in electricity demand which, over the next decade, is anticipated to double from the consumption levels of the previous two decades.

Surveying the landscape of the next 12 months, the paramount business priorities include profitability, sustainability and digital transformation. Schneider Electric asserts that sustainability is the linchpin, serving as a pivotal lever for driving digital transformation. Contrary to the misconception that sustainability is an expensive endeavour, sustainability is, in fact, a strategic imperative that enhances profitability and accelerates digital transformation efforts.

By doing so, organisations can unlock greater profitability and propel their digital transformation initiatives. Sustainability, when integrated into the fabric of strategic planning, fosters a mindset conducive to driving future-ready data centres.

At the core of Schneider Electric’s philosophy is the belief that the fusion of energy, cooling and automation is paramount for achieving full efficiency throughout the entire data centre ecosystem. This extends from energy processes to endpoints and clouds, ensuring transparency at every stage of the data lifecycle.

Schneider Electric introduces the concept of a digital twin, a comprehensive tool designed to provide a clear and detailed picture of the entire data centre lifecycle. From initial design to ongoing operations and maintenance, the digital twin serves as a virtual replica, offering visibility and insights for efficient and sustainable management.

A pragmatic approach involves understanding the total carbon footprint, differentiating between scope one, two and three emissions, and aligning with global initiatives for net-zero emissions. 75% of investors express a willingness to invest only in entities with robust sustainability strategies. This underscores the urgent need for data centre operators to articulate and implement comprehensive sustainability journeys to secure future investments.

There are two primary categories of emissions. Direct emissions – the first step in the hierarchy – include on-site generator emissions, cooling systems, replicating fire suppression and vehicular emissions related to corporate data centres. Indirect emissions encompass the purchase of electricity and water consumption. Additionally, it extends to the broader spectrum of upstream and downstream activities, such as capital goods, energy-related activities, transportation distributions, waste generation, business travels, deployed committees and assets leased to third parties.

The Total Building Outcome (TBO) concept, spanning the design, build, operate and maintain phases, is pivotal for a comprehensive sustainability strategy. By integrating sustainability at the design phase, organisations can shape the future trajectory of their data centres. This emphasis on environmental consciousness needs to permeate through the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage, pushing for detailed and environmentally conscious specifications rather than solely capacity metrics.

Recognising the rapid evolution of technology, it is important to not lock into designs that can’t accommodate new advancements. The incorporation of digital twins, data integration at design and qualification levels, and embracing new technologies like liquid cooling exemplify Schneider Electric’s commitment to staying ahead of the technological curve.

A standout feature of Schneider Electric’s offerings is the TradeOff Tool for Data Centre Lifecycle Carbon Assessment. This tool provides a clear visibility into the CO2 emissions of data centres, facilitating informed decision-making based on actual data. The methodology aligns with the greenhouse gas protocol standard, ensuring a rigorous and widely accepted approach.


RACA Journal caught up with Mourad following the conference, and the following is output from that interview: Mourad underscored the escalating demand for electricity, predicting a doubling of consumption every decade. Between 2012 and 2020, electricity consumption surged from 5 000 to 10 000 terawatt hours per year, with projections reaching 20 000 terawatt hours by 2030.

He consequently urges the maximisation of renewable energy sources, carbon-neutral designs, and circular material considerations. “Managing supply and demand, along with the efficient use of resources, is a crucial aspect of meeting business needs responsibly without compromising future generations.”

Schneider Electric has a number of innovative solutions aimed at tackling these challenges head-on. Mourad stresses the importance of a dual approach: digital for enhanced efficiency and electrical for decarbonisation. This combination, labelled ‘Digital Plus Electrification’, was presented as the optimal equation for achieving sustainability.

Schneider Electric’s Digital Plus Electrification equals better sustainability management. Unpacking this equation, the emphasis on digitalisation is highlighted as a catalyst for efficiency, providing clarity in data management. Electrification brings forth considerations for source diversification and the integration of alternative solutions, aligning with sustainability goals. He outlines five key integration points as disruptive efficiency measures:

  • Energy cost automation: Streamlining energy processes from endpoints to the cloud
  • Complete digital twin: Designing and building with a full digital representation across the data centre lifecycle
  • Endpoint to cloud transparency: Providing visibility from the shop floor to the cloud
  • Unified operation centres: Managing multiple data centres efficiently
  • Premises connectivity: Integrating sustainability into the supply chain

Schneider Electric’s innovative solution, the Data Hub, was introduced as a comprehensive system catering to diverse stakeholders within data centres. This system relies on connected products and infrastructures, edge control for data collection, and AI-driven analytics for informed decision-making.

A digital hub converges processes and energy, functioning as a central data hub for all stakeholders, integrating connected products, edge controls, and analytics to provide actionable insights to IT operators, facility operators, power utilities, and even C-level executives.

In its essence, Schneider Electric’s philosophy revolves around simplicity – a data hub gathering information, a digital twin offering a holistic view, and a commitment to a sustainability journey. This philosophy extends from design considerations to addressing future technologies, embodying a continuous evolution towards efficiency and sustainability.


Acknowledging the diverse landscape of Africa, Mourad emphasises the relevance of prefabricated modular and microgrid data centres to the region. Recognising varying levels of ecosystem maturity across countries, the prefabricated modular approach was positioned as an opportunity to foster digital transformation, particularly in regions with nascent ecosystems.

The localisation of prefabrication was proposed as a means to enhance sustainability and promote local economic growth.

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