As you would expect, data centres require a huge amount of energy to keep going. From servers to cooling systems, the infrastructure in need of a constant energy supply is huge. Energy is an absolute necessity for many companies, as, without it, entire organisations would be at risk of coming to a complete standstill. With more than 250 data centres in the UK alone using over 345MW of power, the demand is high – amounting to the same level of energy to power a city containing 600,000 people. With the prices of energy continually rising due to demand, data centres are put under an increasing amount of financial pressure. Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which you can make your data centre as energy efficient as possible and avoid rising energy costs.
Keep your Data Centre costs down
With over 40% of companies within the UK reporting an increase of energy consumption over the last few years, the need to assess ways in which businesses can keep energy use down has become more of a priority. Along with the desire to reduce costs by being more efficient, it’s also important to recognise the effect increased energy usage has on the environment. Energy supplied to data centres derives from fossil fuels such as coal, which along with contributing to climate change, has a damaging effect on the earth’s atmosphere; giving companies even more of a reason to become more energy efficient.
As detailed in a whitepaper from Pulsant, energy costs and usage by data centres are expected to double over the next 10 years. With Brexit on the horizon, larger companies particularly will be faced with many impending changes, such as the need to report their power use and energy efficiencies in annual reports once the UK leaves the EU. In a bid to cut power usage, the government has introduced the scheme in question, detailed in an article from The Week. With all of this in mind, there really is no time like the present to address the vital issue of keeping data centre energy usage down.
Understand where energy is wasted
It’s important to stand back and take an overall look at your data centre’s energy usage to ascertain which areas consume the most. This helpful guide from TechTarget details ways in which you can take a closer look at your specific energy usage.
Generally speaking, a huge amount of energy used by data centres is electrical; accounting for around 40% of total energy consumption, closely followed by cooling systems. Airflow systems required to ensure that the correct temperature is always maintained within the centre also accounts for a large part of energy usage.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to firstly determine which areas within your data centre consume the most energy, and begin by focusing on these.
Smart Energy Systems
Smart energy systems are being used more and more by many companies in a bid to become more energy efficient. The introduction of a smart system can bring a multitude of benefits, so much so that the government have created funds for businesses helping to develop smart energy systems.
These systems consume a sustainable level of bioenergy, utilising synergies in the energy system to increase efficiency and reduce expenditure. A report from ScienceDirect lists the ways in which Smart systems are key to creating a sustainable future, making it a great option to look into implementing in your data centre.
Removal of equipment
When assessing the equipment used within your data centre, it’s worth identifying pieces that are not being utilised enough to justify their need. The removal of any equipment that falls into this bracket should be seriously considered, as this will immediately help to slash your energy usage and cost. It can be easier for older, redundant pieces of equipment to be forgotten about, particularly in larger data centres, so doing this should be a top priority. As noted by Sustainability Exchange, older equipment can be far less efficient, meaning that your entire data centre could greatly benefit from replacement or removal of these items.
Invest in energy efficient hardware
Following on from our previous point, the use of newer technology can prove to be far more energy efficient and make a vast improvement to energy consumption and costs. Newer systems and pieces of equipment, for example, do not get as hot as their older counterparts and therefore don’t require a cooling system to operate effectively. By investing in newer pieces of equipment and hardware, you may find that more space is available once unnecessary systems are taken out, freeing up space used on each rack.
Computer Weekly list many ways in which you can achieve better data centre energy efficiency which will help massively in reducing energy demands.
Consider making your own energy
The first thing that may come to mind in self-sufficient energy production, are solar panels. While these will not provide the amount of energy needed to run an entire data centre, they will go a considerable way in reducing your expenditure on energy usage. Solar panels can be installed on the roof of your data centre and will undoubtedly help in reducing your energy costs; proving to be most helpful during the summer months, when cooling systems begin to work harder and require more power to function. Companies like EvoEnergy can design an energy system based on your company needs and install solar panels with the aim to reduce overheads.
Look at the physical layout
It’s definitely worth taking a good look at the physical layout of your data centre, ensuring that it is working in your best interests. The room layout can have a direct impact on the maximum amount of space available and whether this is being utilised efficiently. You could potentially be using more energy than needed if your cooling systems are placed next to hotter components for example. As detailed by Tech Beacon, the concept of having a hot aisle and cold aisle could help massively in your energy saving efforts, by maximising cost-efficient cooling. This may not be practical for smaller data centres, however, so containment systems could be considered to make cooling more efficient.
To get professional advice on your layout and ways in which you can increase efficiency, you may want to consider a data centre upgrade. In doing so, the energy required to run your systems correctly could be dramatically reduced.
Update your UPS system
UPS systems were largely seen as part of the energy consumption problem, but in recent years have vastly improved to actually counter the issue. By updating your UPS system and moving to a more energy efficient modular system, you could greatly reduce the day-to-day power consumption of your data centre. With the developments in technology, many modern UPS systems have the ability to be rack mounted and are designed specifically to support a much more efficient data centre infrastructure. New advances mean that newer systems also directly help in dealing with environmental factors and climate change.
There’s no doubt that UPS efficiency has a direct impact on the energy use of your data centre, meaning that more and more manufacturers are developing new eco-friendly systems. Because of this, it’s definitely worth taking a look at your current system and working out if it is worth replacing your existing UPS facilities.
The time has come to reduce your energy consumption
Whether you make every change listed in this article or just one, any effort to reduce your energy consumption will result in lower costs for your organisation. You may not have the budget currently to look at making larger improvements, such as solar panel installation, but by simply looking at your current equipment and layout, you’ll easily become more energy efficient. If your data centre has been left untouched for some time, it will be incredibly beneficial to have a re-haul and identify ways in which it can be improved.
Any changes and improvements to your data centre should be carefully considered, which is why we recommend enlisting the help of a professional contractor to give you expert advice. This way, none of your efforts will be wasted and you’ll see the maximum amount of return for even the smallest of changes made.
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