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European, Balkan utilities turn to data centers to stimulate power demand

European and Balkan utilities turn to data centers to increase power demand and renewable project returns

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Published

June 17, 2024

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Published:

June 17, 2024

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Power companies in Europe and the Balkans are looking for ways to help boost electricity demand, to support their investments in renewables. Data centers are becoming a major factor.

The rapid increase in renewable electricity capacity in Europe is resulting in a widening gap against demand in spring and autumn. It leads to low or even negative hourly prices in the wholesale market, harming producers’ profits. One way to solve the demand deficit is for players with a vertical presence in the power market to invest in data centers.

Given the ever-increasing demand for digital services, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), more and more data centers are needed. Each requires tens or hundreds of green megawatts.

Power companies investing heavily in renewables can attain a presence on both sides of the trade and boost profits by investing in data centers. According to a leaked study that Goldman Sachs conducted for Greece’s Public Power Corp. (PPC), the phenomenon, already evident in the United States, will make its way to Europe within a year or two.

Demand set to rise massively by 2032

Overall, Goldman estimates that data centers, electrification and hydrogen would lead to a massive 42% to 48% rise in power consumption in the European Union by 2032. It would affect the so-called reserve margin, the amount of unused available capability of the system.

The authors expect the measure to turn negative by 2030. They see the trend leading to scarcity in electricity supply and a rise in prices of power purchase agreements (PPAs) from 2027.

European and Balkan utilities turn to data centers to increase power demand
Goldman Sachs is expecting a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% per year in power consumption in Europe over the next decade

Some Balkan utilities are already positioning themselves to tap into the opportunity by developing data centers. PPC is investing in a 25 MW facility, while Mytilineos has already constructed a 6.8 MW system.

Cluster Power, which specializes in data centers and energy services, is developing a 200 MW technology campus in Romania. It aims to commission the facility in 2025.

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