Data centers require an exorbitant amount of energy to function, but developing sustainable, energy efficient operating measures has become a priority within the industry.
According to bisnow.com, the average electrical costs for most data centers can exceed $1 million per month. Reducing that, either through operational efficiencies or incorporating renewable energy sources, can save thousands — even hundreds of thousands, in the case of larger centers — annually. By using more efficient cooling systems, along with utilizing virtualization to ensure that servers are operating at close to capacity, data center users can boost their savings to seven figures.
Data centers can reduce energy in many ways, such as virtualization and power usage effectiveness (PUE) analysis.
Using data center virtualization, an existing or a standard data center facility can be used to host multiple virtualized data centers on the same physical infrastructure, which can simultaneously be used by separate applications and/or organizations. This not only helps in optimal IT infrastructure and resource utilization, but also in reducing data center capital and operational costs.
Analysis of a data center’s PUE is another way to save energy. PUE represents the ratio of total energy consumed by a data center to the energy delivered to computing equipment. The ideal PUE is 1. And, according to bisnow.com, 15 to 20 years ago, the PUE of an average data center was around 2, meaning that for every kilowatt going to the servers, an equal amount was directed to cooling, lighting and other non-computing uses.
PUEs are now in the 1.3 to 1.5 range. This is due to many factors, including data centers being built in cooler climates, energy efficient lighting and the fact that data centers can now operate successfully at higher temperatures.
According to energy.gov, data centers consume large amounts of energy to run and maintain their computer systems, servers, and associated high-performance components — up to 3% of all US electricity powers data centers. Data centers can become more energy efficient by incorporating features like power-saving “stand-by” modes, energy monitoring software and efficient cooling systems.
Tech giants such as Apple and Amazon have embraced more energy efficient operations at their data centers. In July, Apple announced it will begin construction on a data center in Denmark that will run entirely on renewable energy. The $921 million project will begin operations in 2019 in Aabenraa in southern Denmark near the German border. It will power Apple’s online services, including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for customers across Europe.
In 2016, Amazon announced that its data centers will run on 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017. And last month, the online retailer spent a record $3.2 million on lobbying for a number of issues, including renewable energy taxes.