8 May 2013 – A report just published by DCD Intelligence identifies that four out of five of the fastest growing territories, in terms of data centre power requirements, are the so-called BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).
In fact, there is only one established market within the top ten for energy requirements growth – the Nordics group of countries. The remaining nine are the BRIC group plus five of the E7 (emerging seven) countries − Turkey, the Gulf states, the ASEAN group of markets, Colombia and South Africa.
Over the past 12 months, much attention has been directed at green locations. However, the report finds that there is little evidence to suggest that low carbon data centre locations are becoming the norm.
According to professor Ian Bitterlin, “You would imagine, with the rising cost and importance of power, that there would be an exodus of data centre facilities to low-cost or low-carbon (not linked to the price of fossil fuel) regions, but whilst there are some moves, generally data-centre location seems to be affected by forces other than power availability or cost.”
With the amount of negative publicity surrounding current and future power requirements for the data centre industry many have asked the question whether the industry is doing enough to reduce power consumption. The answer according to both professor Bitterlin and the report’s author, DCD intelligence lead analyst Nick Parfait, is a definite yes – though with the proviso that the industry must continue to find ways of doing even more.
As Parfit explains, “Currently the industry can show to the outside world a variety of energy saving initiatives with new and forthcoming international and regional standards, best practices, maturity models and codes of conduct on energy efficiency.
“However, we in the data-centre industry need to educate others − especially governments and legislators − what we do, how central our role is in the digital economy and how our facilities are becoming ever more vital and also ever more energy efficient. For example, interacting digitally rather than physically has a very significant impact on the carbon footprint of data centre users.”
According to projections made based on 2012 census data, the global data centre industry has a total power consumption of approximately 332 TWh (terawatt hours) 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 the International Energy Agency (IAE) world energy outlook figures. However, as Parfait explains, “Governments and legislators need to understand that modern data centres use this energy orders of magnitude more efficiently than their old server-room predecessors. So companies should be rewarded, not discouraged from transferring to these facilities.”
This total demand figure is up 14% over the 2011 census data. Whilst this is lower than the previously projected increase of 19%, it is still very significantly higher than overall global energy demand for which the historic 10 year rate of increase is just 2.5%.