In the Netherlands, Microsoft data centers consumed 4 to 7 times more drinking water than expected

Microsoft’s data center complex in Middenmeer, in the north of the Netherlands, would have consumed 84 million liters in 2021, compared to the 12 to 20 million liters initially estimated by Microsoft and the municipality.

A situation that could worsen this year, against a backdrop of drought and water shortages. Microsoft says it only uses water when outside temperatures exceed 25C, a limit that was only exceeded six days in 2021, according to weather data, compared to six days for just the past two weeks.

However, the municipality has adjusted its figures devoted to the consumption of (drinking) water by data centers, which indicate that Microsoft used 75 million liters to cool its data centers and 9 million liters for “ other things “.

The classified figure was spotted by local media Noordhollands Dagblad, and picked up by Data Center Dynamics. This overconsumption of water is all the more problematic as farmers had opposed the opening of new data centers in 2021, precisely because of the environmental impact and the consumption of cooling water.

In total, the 28 data centers installed in the region’s watershed used 550 million liters of drinking water or 0.5% of the total drinking water supply, which was 112 billion liters in 2021. In comparison, companies had used 650 million liters, or 0.6%.

The Dutch Data Center Association recalls that it says that “ drinking water [pour les personnes] always takes precedence over water for industry “, and that’ “ it is therefore very unlikely that a shortage of drinking water will occur due to data centers “.

All of the data centers installed in the Netherlands, which are supplied with 88% renewable electricity, also consumed 2.8% of Dutch electricity consumption.


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