The sudden changes in the climatic condition is affecting everyone around the world and it is also a matter of concern for the data center players with an increase in the scope of renewable energy, data center players are looking forward to becoming more energy efficient in their operations.
As more and more data needs to be processed, a data center is bound to get larger. Thus, the greatest method to reduce a data center’s environmental impact and operating costs is to reduce the amount of power it requires, according to a report by Datacenters.com.
The report further explained that the energy losses in the cooling system of a data center might account for a large portion of the total power requirement.
A data center’s Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) is determined by dividing the absolute power consumed by the power used primarily for computing. The system is more efficient if the ratio is close to 1.0.
With this in mind, paying close attention to temperature, reducing excessive server utilisation, and optimising power storage dynamics are all relatively low-cost strategies to make data centers more energy-efficient. The cooling of servers consumes around 40 per cent of the energy used by data centers.
In a panel discussion titled ‘Preparing the DCs for the Earth’s newest climate’ during W.Media’s Bangalore Cloud and Data Center Convention 2022. Thought leaders shared their insights on the initiatives and steps that need to be taken to shield the data center from global warming and how to be prepared for a more demanding situation. The session was moderated by NK Singh, Founder & CEO, Data Center Guru. The panelists included Sreejith G, VP – Data Centre, STT GDC India, Subhamkar Das, VP – Data Centre Design & Build, Nxtra Data Ltd and Manikiran Kumar, Vice-president Technical Datacenters, GTPL.
Strategy for protecting the data centers
“For me, the environmental impact or how we contribute from the data center side to the environment should be mutual. In the last ten years, the environmental conditions have changed drastically. We are experiencing cyclones in India, the temperatures are also rising. The impact of global warming is huge. The temperatures are changing in the Arabian Sea at an increased rate as compared to the last few years,” said Sreejith G, VP – Data Centre, STT GDC India.
He further explained that a lot more unpredictable changes in the environment are expected including cyclones, heavy rains, etc. The digital infrastructure today is extremely essential and any interruption to any data center will be unaffordable and disruptive.
The other way to look at it is how we can give back to the environment and protect the environmental assets while doing our own work. Data center is a power-hungry infrastructure and it consumes a huge amount of power which is expected to double every three years. For example in India if today it is 250-500 MW it is expected to reach about 1GW or double in three years. That is the kind of business projection that is beneficial for the organisation.
“How do we take care of the environmental aspects? At STTelemedia Global Data Centers India we have a very clear policy around that. We have an ESG framework which is Environmental Social Governance. This framework has been created in many areas. First and foremost is the ethical business practices, and second comes the power strategy. We have an internal pledge and policy of reaching net carbon neutrality by 2030, this is one mission that we are driving internally. As of today 34 per cent of our energy consumption is from renewable energy which includes water, solar and wind.
We tend to grow to 60-70 per cent, as long as the regulatory policies are allowing us we are okay to go up to 100 per cent. Third, comes the cooling aspect where a lot of water is used and we have a storage strategy for construction. We will only use air cool chillers,” added Sreejith.
He further explained that the air cool chillers as compared to the water chillers consume less amount of water. There are operational data centers where water chillers infrastructure exists where running water is used.
“We are running projects to conserve water by using the blowdown water technique, for example, one of our data centers in Chennai we have implemented this technique and are saving 40 KL per day which is enough for providing water for many villages in our country,” concluded Sreejith.
“The Threat Vulnerability assessment (TVRA) is carried out every time we take a new land or a site, we carry out a TVRA. There are more than 50 to 100 parameters. For example, if we look at environmental factors and we look at flooding. So we would try to look at the patterns of the last 100 years of flooding, cyclones and other aspects, after which a collective decision is taken based on that land’s suitability in terms of TVRA.
This does not take into account things like the cost of the land, incentives, fiber path, or availability of trained people. We are not talking about that. We are specifically talking about the impacts of an environment which is becoming increasingly unpredictable,” said Subhankar Das, VP – Data Centre Design & Build, Nxtra Data Ltd.
He further explained that with this unpredictability it is even more important to conduct the TVRA. This is conducted when a new land is acquired and also in the existing sites. The frequency is not defined in Nxtra by Airtel but, it happens anytime between 18 to 24 or 36 months to keep all the parameters in check as a result of which certain mitigations on those can be done.
“We currently are managing some of the most critical infrastructures of India. At GTPL we have a strict adherence to the environment. The site selection is extremely crucial to any data center operator. There are a lot of global certification organisations for example Uptime Institute, at the same time whenever we are planning for an infrastructure we need to ensure that not just the site location but several other parameters should also be kept in check. One of the most important one is the aspect of flooding and temperature,” said Manikiran Kumar, Vice-president Technical Datacenters, GTPL.
He further explained that many times it is also mandated by organisations to study the environmental patterns of the past twenty years of the land which has been acquired in order to finalise the equipment. The equipment plays a crucial role in any data center infrastructure.
It is also important to streamline the operations in order to upkeep the equipment throughout the life cycle of the data center. Currently, GTPL has captive data centers which run on 100 per cent renewable energy. According to experts, the power capacity of data centers will be up to 4GW in the next few years.
“4GW distributed throughout India is pretty huge. Delhi currently has a large amount of power consumption which is close to 8GW during the peak of the summer season and 4GW is 50 per cent of Delhi’s requirement which is a huge number. Renewable energy is going to play a critical role on how we evolve while planning a new data center,” concluded Kumar.
Organisations are taking the steps required to make their organisation more energy efficient. Earlier this year, Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) announced the commissioning of a new 21 MW solar power plant in District Bhuldana, Maharashtra as part of the company’s commitment to progressively reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the global efforts to curb the effects of climate change.