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January 2019 saw the freezing weather bring power outages across Chicago, earlier in July 2018 it was so hot the Michigan Avenue Bridge had to be hosed down as the metal was expanding and reducing the clearance for boats to pass under. Chicago is just one city, there are thousands more affected by unpredictable climate.
What has this got to do with data centers and our IT/communications infrastructure?
Climate change is not coming, it is here with us today! It is likely to get worse, much worse. Some may accredit it partially to solar activity but wether or not the sun takes responsibility we cannot ignore human activity and the damage we are causing to the protective ozone layer. Data centers have a huge appetite for carbon producing ozone destroying grid power, and they are here to stay. Further more they are growing in number and capacity but they are absolutely essential for society as we now know it, there is no going back!
The Aircraft Industry has been in and out of the headlines for its carbon emissions running currently between 2%-3%.(transport overall is 14% (https://aviationbenefits.org/environmental-efficiency/our-climate-plan/aviation-and-climate-change/It) It has recognised the situation and manufactures more efficient engines amongst other innovations and energy saving procedures . The data center industry is currently under the radar with 7% of global power usage and growing. The power used is mostly from the grid and supplied by power generation companies using fossil fuels such as coal and chucking out 35% of our Green house gasses.
There is an awareness starting to grow and as It too is looking at innovations to make its industry greener. There is a move towards renewable energy sources while others look at Liquid or innovative cooling systems, upgrading to more efficient UPS and Batteries, AI, virtualisation and applications to run their facilities more efficiently and economically. All of these components of the green data center have a cost and in existing facilities their deployment has to be carefully managed. The benefits are significant to reductions in OPEX and lessening the damage to the world we live in is priceless.
The test of time will be in the take up of legacy data centers and how much their owners are willing to spend to make our new facilities as green as possible. Will site selection be restricted to the availability of renewable energy
Why will data centers change
It’s easy to do nothing but eventually just like the smoke stack chimneys of the industrial revolution data centers, will come under far more scrutiny and possibly legislation affecting the cost and way they are operated, add that to outdated equipment being more expensive to run and less reliable along with higher demand on cooling and power due to climate change – the data center infrastructure industry will take note and react!
The erratic temperatures of Chicago, the rising sea levels around Japan’s Osaka and Egypt’s Alexandria all deserve a little help to slow down global warming from the the data center industry other than just having a place to store the reports on their local climate changes!
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