Several major European banks are preparing for a power shortage this winter, against the backdrop of the energy crisis. Backup generators, reduced heating, lights out at night: what measures are banks planning to take to limit their energy consumption?
Data centers, backup generators and diesel supply
The energy crisis could have far-reaching repercussions on the monetary system. Transactions suspended, ATMs failing, Internet access impossible: the electricity shortage threatening Europe this winter could destabilize the region's economy, already battered by the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
To avoid a worst-case scenario, several major European banking groups are currently preparing to limit their energy consumption through a series of preventive measures. Over the summer, various task forces have been working on the issue, sometimes even running simulations.
Italian bank Unicredit has done just that, using stand-alone power sources to test the operation of its data centers, according to Reuters news agency. In anticipation of possible power cuts, several other major banks are relying on backup generators to power their data centers.
The operation of generators raises other issues, the main one being access to diesel to power them.
Even if data centers claim to have secured their supply, needs could be much greater this winter, and it's not certain that suppliers will be able to supply all the data centers in a country or region simultaneously for any length of time.
Lower heating, cut hot water and reduce night lighting
Deutsche Bank is aiming to save 4.9 million kWh of electricity over the course of a year, thanks to various measures implemented in the group's 1,400 buildings in Germany. In Frankfurt, the fountain in front of the head office will be taken out of service, and group employees will no longer be able to use hot water in the toilets.
Deutsche Bank is also planning to turn down the heating in offices, and to switch off interior lighting at night, as well as illuminated advertising outside buildings.
Several other banks are planning to put an end to night lighting in their branches, or at least to reduce it. This is the case, for example, of a major French mutual group, which is also planning, in the longer term, to replace automatically-opening entrance locks with conventional doors, in order to save on heating costs.
Regulators are closely monitoring the measures taken by banks, both at the level of the European Central Bank and national supervisory bodies such as the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK.
According to the media outlet Zonebourse, the ability of banks, and more generally businesses, to cope with prolonged power cuts is nevertheless questioned by some experts, such as the CEO of the Electric Infrastructure Security Council think tank, Avi Schnurr.