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Working towards the green data centre

Bonnie Gardiner | May 5, 2015
The standard data centre will one day run on renewable energy and green technologies. But how far do we have to go before this is a reality?

"That means running a server for longer than it was designed for and not upgrading it so it's more efficient... there's a cycle of lack of investment there," says Gedda.

"It's hard to change an industry that's very mature and with such a social and economic impact. "Individuals and companies are reluctant to change rapidly, but as more green options come to the table I think green data centres will become more of a standard than an exception."

Looking forward

The 451 report predicts that, overall, only a relatively small number of data centres will actively invest in on-site renewables (or co-locate with alternative energy providers), while others will begin to alter existing power infrastructure in response to wider changes in the grid.

It's expected that data centres will become more energy-aware and seek to interact with and understand their energy supplier better, leading to a greater variety of different power architectures and different energy purchasing relationships.

The report also predicts that data centres will increasingly be considered in the context of interaction with local energy infrastructure, micro- and mini-grids, as well as other intelligent buildings given growing investment in so-called smart cities.

"As capital costs for greener infrastructures come down, we're also likely to see more innovative options for powering and cooling, as well as how buildings are designed with sustainability in mind," says Gedda.

"The best option for those looking to be greener is having a data centre designed to be green from the ground up.

"If you can't have that scenario, then you might look at using pre-existing environmentally friendly buildings that offer more options for renewable power, better cooling and design and so forth."

Private sector developments are expected to provide progress in this area, along with global schemes such as the EU-backed RenewIT project, which aims to develop advanced energy simulation tools for integration of renewable energy sources in data centres.

"It could be decades before the green data centre becomes standard ... but once we get over those humps, we can expect a tide of change," says Gedda.

"Data centres aren't going to become green overnight, but we're getting there."


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