The digital sector is one of the most energy-intensive. Comprising 34 billion pieces of equipment, more than 4 billion users, plus network infrastructures and data centers, it is responsible for 2.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Gesi Smarter 2030).

In terms of the environmental impact of data centers, they account for 1% of the world’s electricity consumption[1] and 0.5% of CO2 emissions (GreenIT).

Between 2010 and 2018, their performance grew phenomenally. According to a study conducted by Science[2], storage capacity has increased 25-fold, network traffic has increased 10-fold, and computing volumes have increased by 550%. This generated a 6% rise in energy consumption. Even if this increase is measured against the explosion in the volume of data exchanged and stored, we must continue to work to ensure that data centers are part of an increasingly virtuous and environmentally friendly cycle.

The future of data centres is fossil-free

Data centres are the factories of the digital age, forming an essential part of the national data infrastructure. But despite their growing importance, these titans of information are under substantial pressure to reduce a data centre’s environmental impact. A shift from fossil fuels to alternative fuels is inevitable. Read on to find out how to reduce your data centre’s greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining optimum efficiency.

So how do you lessen a data centre’s environmental impact?

1. Use an advanced renewable fuel, Crown HVO

Emergency or contingency power is an important consideration for data centres and red diesel (gas oil) is the fuel of choice due to supply being readily available, cost-effective and energy-efficient enough to power a data centre in an emergency. However, data centres must be environmental conscious, and in this regard, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO fuel) is quickly becoming a viable and popular alternative to red diesel.

2. Invest in cooling techniques

Cooling is responsible for most of the power consumption in data centres – but badly designed cooling techniques are largely responsible for increased carbon emissions. Cold aisle corridors and free cooling have a positive impact on energy usage. Formed by locating services in closed off aisles with a roof and door at either end means the energy required is significantly reduced.

Data centres can also benefit from investing in ‘free’ cooling techniques like using the outside air and water to chill the water used in cold aisle corridors, instead of man-made techniques like air conditioning.

3. Use power on demand and monitoring

Installing effective power quality management systems will identify areas in the current power and cooling practices that could be causing problems. Remote sensors measure factors such as temperature, emissions and power, enabling data centres to receive instant notifications of any issues. This will ensure a simple bug is fixed before turning into millions of pounds in losses for a data centre and its customers.

Data centre

4. Invest in new equipment

As equipment gets older, it consumes more energy to keep operational. Continuous technological developments mean that new and improved equipment is available which is better functioning and more energy efficient too.

5. Invest in renewable energy

Data centres can also make use of large unused roof spaces for solar panels and wind turbines instead of requiring additional space. They are a worthwhile low-maintenance and long-term addition to helping to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions.

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See How Datacenter Managers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact