On Tuesday, global engineering and management company Aurecon released research information identifying the energy consumption of data centres across the globe, with focus given to South Africa.

Expertise leader, data & ICT facilities at Aurecon Peter Greaves said that data centres house large IT technology systems such as communication systems, storage systems and other IT systems such as processors, server power supplies, network infrastructure and hardware, computers, Uninterrupted Power Supply and connectivity systems.

These systems require vast amounts of cooling to prevent overheating.

Greaves explained in a company statement: “Most of the energy that is consumed within a data centre needs to pass through various stages of distribution before it can be used by IT systems. This energy is converted to heat, which is why these facilities require a significant amount of cooling.”

Cooling systems in data centres

Cooling systems have been identified as the main reason for high energy consumption, however, ‘free cooling opportunities’ are available in certain geographical locations such as South Africa.

Greaves said: “There’s definitely more opportunities to use this type of indirect free-cooling in certain areas of South Africa, particularly where the temperature falls below 19°C and the humidity is below 60 RH (relative humidity) for more than 2,500 hours per year.”

He added that if the given air temperature is in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) requirements of 18°C-27°C then a ‘free cooling’ system would work.

Data centres in South Africa

“Data centres in South Africa are in the early, exciting stages of development”, Greaves said.

This puts owners in a favourable position to select the best energy solutions to supply sustainable and affordable power.

Greaves described US multinational internet provider Google’s energy efficient model: “Googles data centre in Hamina, Finland, is aiming to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral and it recently signed a deal with a wind farm operator in Sweden to power its Finnish facility with wind turbines.

“As South African data centres continue to develop, I predict that a growing number of operators will be more willing to tackle sustainability challenges head-on and incorporate more progressive solutions into their data centre designs and development”,  he concluded.

Impact of load shedding

On the subject of load shedding becoming a frequent occurrence, facilities with a co-generation energy system will be able to gauge their energy usage and reduce their costs as they would not be relying solely on diesel fuel, Greaves said in the statement.

“Load shedding will drive a greater level of reliance on the backup generator systems that are installed in data centres”, Greaves commented.

How data centres can use energy efficiently

According to Aurecon, data centres can implement virtualisation, ARM based processors, good practical management of facilities and implementing power usage effectiveness (PUE) targets.

(Pic Credits: techrepublic)