Can data centres be sustainable?

Can data centres be sustainable?

“Ireland has committed to meeting its target of 40pc renewable electricity by 2020 as part of the EU’s target to reach 20pc final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. The data centre industry must play a part in helping achieve this goal”.

The growth of cloud computing, means the number of data centres is climbing globally. Energy is a fundamental component for data centres to be able to deliver its services to customers and this means the industry needs to be committed to looking for new ways to optimise energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and cut waste.

Data centres consume high levels of energy to power the IT equipment contained within them and extract the heat they produce. As a result of the Paris Climate Agreement, data centre providers in the EU are increasingly aware of the responsibilities on them to source all operational electricity from renewable sources.

At a global level this has seen the establishment of groups such as Green Grid where data centres are coming together to respond as an industry to the energy issue. Initiatives coming from organisations such as Green Grid include establishing metrics and providing frameworks for organisations to realise operational efficiency.

As Ireland sets itself an ambitious target of having 40% of all its energy generated from renewable sources by 2020 and 70% by 2030. As a sector which consumes a significant amount of electricity, the data centre industry here needs to rise to meet this objective and help Ireland on its journey.

Ireland has a thriving data centre industry with innovation at its core, as it continues to grow the industry continuously moves to introduce innovative thinking to its design and building process. Data centre providers are implementing measures such as introducing energy efficient design elements to maximising free air cooling; virtualisation ensuring that servers are maximised for resource sharing so less new servers are required and working with energy providers to improve grid efficiency.

From the infrastructure in the building, to the energy it uses, data centres across Europe are making pledges to use renewable energy where possible. Across its three data centres and in the planning for its newest data centre Interxion is committed to using 100% renewable energy.

As a hub for colocation, data centre providers in Ireland are working with planners and government to manage the sectors growing energy needs.

But this issue is not unique to just data centres. The increase in IoT at every level throughout society will place an even greater demand on our energy resources with no sign of slowing down. However, IoT could also bring benefits to energy consumption. A recent Host in Ireland

report highlighted that AI could assist in power management with a “system that continuously monitors conditions and workloads” that allowing the data centre to optimise its energy needs as they change.

As the industry grows, we need to ensure that any energy used is renewable and meets Ireland’s long-term objectives. Data centre providers have begun to recognise that its focus needs to go beyond energy consumption, with the creation of metrics for issues such as carbon, water and compute efficiency.

“Data centres are seen as a vast warehouse building that consumes a lot of energy and provides room for a lot of servers while in reality it is so much more. For our business and Ireland to keep going we need to be able to meet our growing economic data storage needs. As an industry, data centres are making significant developments to becoming more efficient and must continue to make these strives. Going Green isn’t just a slogan for Interxion. It’s our aim to reduce energy demands as efficiently as possible using innovative technology. Our customers value the contributions we make to ensure energy used is renewable, as they also striving to be sustainable” said Rachel Ryan, Marketing Manager, Interxion Ireland.

“Continuous innovation is at the core of Interxion, so sustainability has always been a focus. With each new data centre, DUB1, DUB2 and DUB3, Interxion has increased its focus on sustainability in everything it does, from its energy sources and infrastructure, to the environmental impact and working with policy. We are Green in every way and we celebrate that every St. Patrick’s Day!”

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