Global Market Insights, in its November 2019 report Green Data Center Market Size, estimated the size of the green data center market at over US$6.5 billion in 2018 and projected it would increase by 23.5 percent CAGR from 2019 to 2026.1

The report describes the green data center as designed to provide maximum energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact; consuming less energy and space. ‘The rapid shift toward renewable energy sources is accelerating the green data center market growth. Construction and modernization of data center facilities are driving the market owing to the rise in the data being generated, placing a high demand on energy sources to power data centers and cool them.’

This is important at a time when growing concern is being expressed about the energy consumption within the data center sector, as well as the associated emissions. We spoke with Dave Johnson, Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric, just after attending the DatacenterDynamics London 2019 plenary session where Dave spoke with other industry experts to discuss how to address these issues.

Moving from offsets to using renewable energy

Dave explained to me that for him, there are two major avenues available to those dedicated to affecting positive change; the first critical path to follow is renewables. “We started out with renewable offsets early in our journey into using renewables, now we have to start actually using renewables to power data centers and I think there’s been a lot of progress there.” (The Greenpeace ClickClean initiative has been encouraging major internet companies to move to renewables since 2010).

The second significant avenue for the industry to focus on more in-depth is efficiency. Dave stated that there are equally large gains to be made by increasing the energy efficiency of data centers (no-one ever argues about this point, incidentally).

Where to look for specific energy efficiency gains

Organizations can be more specific in their objectives and energy strategies by analyzing and breaking the problem down. Large data centers have progressed significantly in reducing their PUE (power usage effectiveness). “We’ve worked a lot on this. We’ve had our PUEs come way down from the high 1’s even 2 down to the low 1’s (1.1, 1.2), so we’ve done a lot of good work there, and we’ve done a lot of good work to bring renewables into these data centers.”

Although some of the boxes are checked, there are additional components to consider which could contribute to further significant gains. The focus on large data centers has really paid off: now organizations need to focus in on edge IT, telco edge, and everything within the digital infrastructure ecosystem that is outside of those big data centers. The big targets are straightforward to spot; now it’s time to focus on the harder ones where greater gains can be made.

Dave concluded that as an industry “we haven’t done a lot there yet and those areas (edge) are actually growing faster in terms of electricity use than the big data centers, so that’s where we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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