The Cloud Ecosystem for Europe’s Twin Transition

The cloud environment has proven to be an excellent accelerator of digital transformation. Today, the cloud ecosystem is the primary vehicle of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and Internet-of-Things (IoT). However, the speed at which these technologies are implemented escalates the widespread demand for processing power. In consequence, the European Commission expects substantial growth in energy consumption which might impede the 2030 carbon neutrality goals. While there is no doubt that the cloud economy will continue to grow, it is clear that it must also provoke research and concrete actions to neutralize negative aspects of digital transformation and support Europe’s twin transition.

Possible scenarios of the energy demand of data centres in the EU27 until 2030

Figure 1: Possible scenarios of the energy demand of data centers in the EU27 until 2030 (Source Borderstep Institute)

Decentralization of the cloud – highlights from the Big Data Value Association webinar

During the recent webinar, hosted by the BDVA (Big Data Value Association), a panel of experts, including the President of D4P, Dr. Monique Calisti, gathered to discuss cloud computing pollution. The webinar focused on obstacles standing in the way of achieving greener and more sustainable cloud solutions across industries. The experts discussed the emergence of edge computing, which means transitioning from centralized data processing in remote servers to localized, IoT-enabled data management. Despite presenting challenging demands, by diminishing the distance data has to travel, edge computing has the potential to reduce unnecessary traffic and carbon emission. Experts also discussed the growing need for data centers and the computational power of AI technologies. With the ongoing proliferation of AI systems, energy consumption is predicted to skyrocket, bringing negative consequences for our environment.

Watch the recording here:

Transparency is key to sustainable digital transformation

Technological progress shows no signs of slowing down, and with the growing popularity of a technocentric viewpoint (see Figure 2), it is important to be guided by comprehensive policy measures.

According to the green paper released by the H-CLOUD project, in the next three years, 50% of European enterprises should have integrated IT/OT governance models and as much as 40% of manufacturers will transition to cloud environments. Such mass transition will create an even greater complexity, further obscuring the state of energy consumption. In reference to that, Dr. Calisti touched on the lack of monitoring across various stages of ICT deployment as one of the hinderers of environmentally conscious digital transformation. She pointed out that even though political attention to sustainable ICT has been growing, there has not been enough focus on measuring the actual impact of digital pollution. Dr. Calisti stressed that increased transparency would allow identifying current and future issues impeding Europe’s twin transition. According to Dr. Calisti different players in the economy should be incentivized to share their consumption levels so that tailored policies can be applied. Moreover, to tackle issues within such a complex network like cloud environment, it is essential to encourage and foster active knowledge exchange between ICT professionals, sustainability experts, policymakers, local governments, and small business owners.

Environmental value systemsFigure 2 Environmental value systems

Green ICT challenges identified by the H-CLOUD project

The extensive report released by the H-CLOUD project in November 2020 identified the main challenges in the journey towards green ICT, also providing possible solutions. Some of them are highlighted below.


Challenge: Weak data centers energy efficiency standards landscape.

Solution: Development of energy efficiency standards utilizing the already existing KPIs.


Challenge: Great environmental impact of ICT devices due to their short lifespan

Solution: Encouraging longer use of ICT devices to better amortize their environmental impact (mostly due to the manufacturing phase). Embracing processors which can turn down the performance and energy consumption of ICT devices. Promote and facilitate the right to wipe and repair electronic devices. Promote and facilitate the recycling of e-waste.


Challenge: Exploitation of the natural environment due to the growing demand for digital devices and services.

Solution: Identify more efficient ways of storing and processing data.


Challenge: Poor understanding of the impact of specific ICT activities on the environment

Solution: ICT manufacturers, data centers, and network operators should report their energy consumption and environmental footprint in a way that enables citizens to understand the environmental impacts of their ICT choices, and that enables governments and policy-makers to encourage environmentally aware decisions.


For further information on challenges in the journey en route to green ICT, please refer to the full report.

D4P network of sustainable digital transformation experts

Even though green ICT has emerged as a byproduct of deploying modern compute paradigms, such as virtual machines, containers, and microservices, it is becoming an increasingly important topic in the cloud industry, with several cloud service providers announcing ambitious goals with regards to carbon neutrality. The success of green ICT initiatives will depend on the establishment and monitoring of clear KPIs, focussed strategy, and investment.

Digital for Planet’s GREEN CLOUD-EDGE-IOT COMPUTING WORKING GROUP focuses its efforts on facilitating all three by:

  • Analyzing, connecting, and participating in programs that study and assess the footprint of Cloud-EDGEEdge-IoT continuum.
  • Scouting, investigating, and proposing architecture, models, and technical solutions to reduce the footprint.
  • Assessing, discussing, and proposing approaches and guidelines for policy development in the domain of sustainable and energy-efficient ICT.
  • Discussing, supporting, and promoting initiatives covering social, economical, and behavioural aspects of sustainable digital transformation.
  • Offering support in finding and accessing the right funding opportunities that can help finance the transformation of organizations for the sustainable development of our Planet.

Committed to Climate Action, we are here to tackle issues in green transformation together! Our experts can support you across several Horizon Europe calls in Clusters 4 and 5, among others:

  • HORIZON-CL4-2022-RESILIENCE-01-25: Optimised Industrial Systems and Lines through digitalisation (IA)
    – Deadline: 30 March 2022 17:00:00 Brussels time
  • HORIZON-CL4-2022-DIGITAL-EMERGING-01-26: Open source for cloud-based services (RIA)
    – Deadline: 05 April 2022 17:00:00 Brussels time
  • HORIZON-CL4-2022-DATA-01-02: Cognitive Cloud: AI-enabled computing continuum from Cloud to Edge (RIA)
    – Deadline: 05 April 2022 17:00:00 Brussels time
  • HORIZON-CL4-2022-DATA-01-03: Programming tools for decentralised intelligence and swarms (RIA)
    – Deadline: 05 April 2022 17:00:00 Brussels time

Read more about selected Horizon Europe Cluster 4 calls and our expertise, here. Article about selected Cluster 5 calls is coming soon. Stay tuned!