Press Releases

nLighten introduces innovative Integrated CFE Score

With this new metric, developed in cooperation with FEEM, the company is now able to measure and report on the full 24/7 carbon-free energy usage of its edge data centers


Amsterdam, 20.06.2024 – nLighten, a digital infrastructure platform and a frontrunner in the European data center market, has introduced an extension to the already established Carbon Free Energy (CFE) metric, an indicator which measures the percentage of carbon free energy supplied and consumed on an hourly basis, to assist the inclusion of heat recovery in energy reporting. With this innovative metric, nLighten is on the path to set new standards in sustainability reporting for the data center industry.

nLighten developed the study in collaboration with the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), a leading international research center for the study of energy and environmental issues, based in Milan, Italy. The Integrated CFE Score, as the centrepiece of the study, highlights nLighten’s commitment to advancing a 24/7 Carbon Free Energy concept by adopting a holistic perspective which includes for sector coupling. 24/7 Carbon Free Energy means that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed is sourced from carbon-free electricity, every hour of every day, everywhere. This goal is being promoted to achieve zero emissions.

Unlike conventional CFE indicators that focus solely on electricity consumption, nLighten’s approach extends the analysis to include both carbon-free electricity and heat produced by nLighten data centers. It then integrates waste heat recovery into sustainability metrics, which extend beyond the data center perimeter to encompass coupled buildings or systems. With this initiative, nLighten aims to provide a transparent measurement of environmental impact and contribution to decarbonization efforts.

Key innovative metrics introduced in the study include:

  • The Integrated Carbon-Free Energy score (ICFEn), which combines both carbon-free electricity and heat scores to measure the aggregate percentage of carbon-free energy. This can be performed for the data center in isolation or for a system of multiple energy users, such that the community effect of sector coupled data centers becomes apparent.
  • The Integrated Avoided Emissions metric, which quantifies emissions reductions achieved through sector coupling of the data center and other utilities, such as heat reuse, renewables generation and grid stabilizing.

The study cites an example from Eschborn, near Frankfurt, Germany, where nLighten successfully partnered with local entities, leveraging their innovative heat reuse solution. nLighten’s latest generation of cooling systems absorbs heat from the servers, raises it to temperatures directly suitable for district heating. This nLighten sector coupled data center will provide Eschborn’s public indoor swimming pool as well as a nearby office building with carbon-free heat.

By connecting local heating systems to their data centers, nLighten helps surrounding communities with meaningful reductions in carbon emissions from reliable and sustainable heat sources.

”At nLighten, we are committed to advancing the idea of integrated sustainability in the data center industry”, says Chad McCarthy, CTO at nLighten. “The integrated CFE score takes into account all the components of the nLighten Sector Coupling: heat reuse, grid stabilization, on-site generation and PPAs. By integrating all these components into the CFE score, we create a metric to measure the improvement in efficiency and emissions our data centers make within the community infrastructure.”

“The energy transition requires increased transparency of energy procurement and a higher level of accountability for any environmental claim”, says Prof. Alessandro Lanza, Executive Director of FEEM. “At FEEM we have been working on sustainability for over three decades and we support the developments of accurate metrics of performance. Therefore, we are pleased to provide a new methodology for calculating the carbon footprint of energy consumption for data centers: As the energy demand from ICT is expected to grow significantly, it is important for the sector to adopt strict rules on carbon emissions.”

If you want to find out more on how the Integrated CFE score works, download the study here:

About nLighten

With its German headquarter in Eschborn, near Frankfurt am Main, nLighten is a digital infrastructure platform and a portfolio company of I Squared Capital. We are developing ten innovative data centers distributed across Germany’s key economic hubs to provide best-in-class network access to local industry, private users and the mobile workforce.

The strategic distribution of nLighten data centers, enables the company to have a country-wide presence in all key German cities and offers access to low latency and proximity to their end-users. The nLighten data centers are designed to meet the increasing demand for faster and more reliable data processing and storage, while also being mindful of environmental impact.

nLighten was founded in 2021 by a core team with many years’ experience and wide-ranging expertise in the data center sector. The team’s main motivation was to create the next step for the data center industry and align data centers with the green transition.

nLighten acquired its initial data centers from EXA Infrastructure (both portfolio companies of I Squared Capital) and plans to begin operations in the second half of 2023. nLighten’s goal is to set up and operate multiple leading edge data center platforms in Europe.