As world leaders met at Glasgow earlier this year, there was a unified view that perhaps- Climate Change is arguably the biggest catastrophe facing planet Earth.
Increasing digital consumption, in the aftermath of the pandemic, has seen a dramatic increase in data consumption. This has a ripple effect. With this increased consumption, requires more data to be stored, which means more data centres, which in turn generates more carbon.
Also, this is putting considerable stress on national power grids and subsequently power (purchasing) costs have doubled post the pandemic, opine data centre operators. In Singapore, Data Centres account for 7 per cent of the total electricity consumption (3.4TWH) in 2020 and this percentage is estimated to increase to 12 per cent by 2030.
Aligned efforts needed
So, this raises the question- How DC operators can align their sustainability efforts with COP26 Directions’. Next DC were not content with a 5 star facility and drove further energy efficiencies through innovation and application.
“In the Next DC facility, water chillers are a huge part of the energy consumption and they had world class variable speed, oil-free, centrifugal chillers installed. The chillers are restricted on the difference between the water temperature of the heat rejection (outside air) and the water temperature use to cool the racks. The difference for the compressor is called the pressure ratio.”Scott Moorhouse, Director Sales & Marketing Asia, Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, Inc.
In effect, the lower you can get the pressure ratio the higher the efficiency. “One chiller as part of a pilot program was fitted with a very small refrigerant pump to allow the chiller to run at very low pressure ratios in colder conditions, boosting the efficiency by 30 per cent. This is a very new application and driven by data centres as the chilled water temperature supply is 3 times it was 5 years ago,” added Moorhouse.
DC operators can align their sustainability efforts with above-mentioned COP26’s goal by addressing three key factors. These include addressing end user requirement, government regulations and business value.
“Starting with end user requirement, we are seeing that the data center industry is leading the way due to the bold, public commitments that the biggest players in Big Tech have made. These tech giants are also looking to combat waste. Waste in energy and waste in water,” said LEE Siew Keong, Head of Cloud & Service Provider and Finance Segments, Singapore, Schneider Electric.
The waste which LEE Siew Keong talks about is critical if data centres are serious about achieving COP26 objectives. “Use of water in data centres need to be addressed as they use billions of gallons of water in energy production and cooling for example. It is critical that they focus and take action in this area,” he added.
Working with these big tech companies is requires adherence to their sustainability objectives. “Having environmental sustainability as an integral part of a business model for DC operators will not only optimise the total cost of ownership but also improve brand reputation & competitiveness which ultimately elevate business value in the market,” points out LEE Siew Keong. Business and industry leaders need to recognise that digitalisation and sustainability are not mutually exclusive – they must go hand in hand.
“Digitalisation has helped in reducing carbon footprint and protecting the environment. With COP26’s aim to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, data center operators should amplify their sustainability efforts by combining digitalization with a sustainability-first mindset. That includes working towards achieving best-in-class data center efficiency and transitioning towards the use of 100 per cent renewable energy, which is also Equinix’s goal for its global portfolio by 2030,”Yee May Leong, Managing Director, South Asia, Equinix.
Aligned with its long-term goal to become climate neutral globally by 2020, Equinix announced recently that it will lead a European Commission partnership – The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking – of seven companies, to develop a next-generation fuel cell platform for greener data centers around the world. This is just one of the many efforts by Equinix to prioritize and support the development of clean, sustainable, and renewable power solutions in the data centre industry. Regulators also have a key role to play. “The governments being the regulators are making carbon pledges around the world and formalizing plans by industries. And Data Centre being a major consumer of electricity will be impacted,” says LEE Siew Keong.
The industry can be proud of the progress made to enable that work and lives are not disrupted. Now the same intent needs to be shown if data centres and environment need to sit next to each other.
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