Data centres have become a core element in human activities; every major enterprise will have one and energy can account for up to 75% of the running costs of these facilities.

According to projections based on 2012 census information, the global data centre industry has a total power consumption of about 332 terawatt hours (TWh) of which 19% is accounted for by colocation or other outsourced facilities. This 332 TWh consumption represents 1.8% of global electricity usage based on International Energy Agency (IAE) figures. As is reflective of a growth sector, the increase in energy usage by data centres globally in 2012 was 14%, much higher than the average 2.5% increase in overall global energy demand over the past decade.

Director emerging markets at Panduit, Andy Oldfield, says that though every midsize to large company will have a data centre there will be great variation on how sophisticated and up to date these are. Panduit is a privately owned company with an automation background that has become influential in networking and data centres. “The corporate guidelines of large multinationals will be more up to date on data centre energy management. In contrast, many government data centres and those of local organisations will be ripe for audit and change,” he says.

“Some data centres in South Africa are sleek and shiny and have been designed with room for expansion. Some of these have two halls, one sealed off and mothballed when currently only one is needed, since why cool empty space. Others however, when you walk in you can feel the brute force cooling approach – you can stand back and feel heat come out of such a facility before it is vented.”

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