Intelligent Data Centres Issue 42 - Page 45

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How can data centres contribute to climate action ?
Data centres have had an extraordinarily high reliance on power from traditional fossil fuel fired plants until recently . As a key step towards climate action , some data centre providers and the hyperscale tenants are pivoting towards renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact .
For example , Amazon recently became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy to support its offices and data centres . Some of the large corporations have committed to reducing the carbon footprint in all aspects of their operations as part of their goals to be net-zero in the next 8 – 10 years .
Along with energy source , data centres can reduce their carbon footprint through efficient usage of the energy by lowering the power usage effectiveness ( PUE ) inside the facility .
How can providers address the increasing needs of both Digital Transformation and climate change ?
Climate initiatives are starting to be at the forefront of many corporate priorities . In fact , according to a recent survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics , 73 % of executives surveyed said their organisations have set a net-zero carbon emissions goal .
In that same survey , however , while 86 % of companies stated they have a sustainability strategy , only about 35 % of those surveyed have taken action on that strategy . Challenges include resistance from customers , technology barriers and even regulatory barriers .
The key is to have a fundamental approach to sustainability that integrates within the core operations of the company . While companies can start in small steps , the key is to take action now to better prepare for the future .
As one of the major consumers of energy , data centre providers can take a more proactive role in minimising their carbon footprint such as shifting from fossil fuel-based energy and select energy options with greener , renewable sources .
Some examples of these include retrofitting existing sites or utilising energy optimisation services to identify energy saving opportunities in an existing data centre . For new sites , consulting with an expert service provider will be beneficial in executing a company ’ s sustainability strategy .
What are new sustainable and eco-friendly innovations in the industry ?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP26 last year introduced a variety of global initiatives to address climate change and climate risk , which also applies to the IT industry .
These include measuring carbon emissions and prioritising actions that will have the biggest impact on reducing energy use . In Singapore , for example , we are seeing some data centre operators adopting a multi-tiered sustainability strategy , such as shifting to renewables or clean energy and driving efficiencies in energy and water usage as well .
There are various innovations happening in each of these fields . For example , in case of energy optimisation , immersion cooling technology can help companies scale their computing power easily and cost-effectively through a dramatic leap in data centre cooling capabilities .
Servers and other components in the rack are submerged in a thermally conductive dielectric liquid , eliminating the need for air cooling or fans in the servers . This new approach is considered an energy efficient form of cooling , driving power usage efficiency ( PUE ) down .
From the point of view of circular economy , there are industry innovations under development on how to utilise the residual heat from data centres for other purposes . Data centre operators are also keen to adopt recycling initiatives for new battery technologies .
How did the pandemic highlight the criticality of the data centre
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industry to businesses across the world ?
While the pandemic accelerated digitisation in various enterprises , it propelled disruption and ‘ new normal ’ in several areas , i . e . education , e-commerce , workspace , events , health monitoring , entertainment and the like .
The digital hardware and software critical to seamless interaction and timely service deliveries in these sectors are housed in the secure and 24x7 available modern data centres . The data centre industry , acclaimed as an essential service , provided the much-needed physical infrastructure to house the IT assets storing zettabytes of data and running billions of applications .
The pandemic saw the demand for cloud services soar which in turn are enabled through an interconnected network of millions of IT computing and storage assets in data centres around the world .
With the undeniably critical role played by data centres in the pandemic , data centres are poised to become as necessary as critical utility services in the next couple of years .
Is the consumption of power by data centres set to rise ? If so , why is this ?
Data centres , and hence their power consumption , will continue to grow in line with the inevitable growth of digitisation and cloud adoption . However , the focus is on a strategic switch to a cleaner power source in the future while optimising the energy usage in current and new facilities .
The growing efficiencies and changing mix towards renewable sources will balance the sheer increase in quantum of power usage . For example in Singapore , data centres accounted for approximately 7 % of energy consumption in 2020 according to the Ministry of Communication and Information ( MCI ).
While power usage will go up with the lifting of the moratorium on new data centres , the new facilities will need to incorporate best-in-class efficiency and sustainability innovations . www . intelligentdatacentres . com
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