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The environmental impact of the Data Centre industry

Jun 12, 2019 10:52:25 AM

This month, Keysource enterprise consultant, Ted Pulfer was asked to speak as part of an expert panel for Insider_Networks on renewable energy in the Data Centre Industry. With data centre use increasing exponentially, and latest figures putting ICT energy use accounting for 3.6% of global energy consumption, the panel looked at options that could increase efficiency and reduce the environmental impact the industry has.  

Ted said: “In terms of energy consumption, the IT industry is fast approaching the size, scale and impact of the tourism sector, which currently accounts for five per cent of global CO2 emissions. Data centres are some of the biggest contributors to that carbon footprint. At a time when awareness of green issues is more heightened than ever, everyone involved in the design and operation of IT estates is coming under increased pressure to address their impact.

“Following the EU’s code of conduct for data centres is a good start but given that the sector has previously been accused of ‘greenwashing’ – using spin to exaggerate its environmental credentials – it’s time for more radical options to be adopted. Thankfully these do exist for nearly every facility, no matter the scale.

“Renewable energy can play a big part in future plans, for instance. Installing measures for self-generated renewable energy from wind farms, hydropower or solar as part of the data centre estate can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent compared to conventional generation. It’s this sort of action that will begin to make a marked difference.

“Whilst the geographical location can often present logistical challenges, the UK industry should be looking abroad for further inspiration. In Sweden, the ‘Boden Type One’ project, a 600kW data centre, is leading the way. It utilises machine learning software to reduce server energy by 20 per cent while also using renewable energy for power, fresh air for cooling and is built to a wooden ‘eco-friendly’ construction. Data centre operators would be wise to keep an eye on the findings of its first year in operation, which are set to be revealed in March 2020.

“There are still plenty of companies that don’t understand how to best reduce their environmental impact, yet the associated efficiency gains and potential reduction in operational costs make it something all businesses would be wise to explore.”

Read the full article in the July edition of Insider_Networks Magazine.

Topics: Data Centre, Energy Consumption, CO2 Emissions, Environment, Carbon Footprint

Ted Pulfer

Written by Ted Pulfer