5 Ways to Reduce a Data Centre’s Environmental Impact While Preserving Efficiency
Posted on 19th August 2019
The future of data centres is fossil-free
Data centres are the factories of the digital age, forming an essential part of the national data infrastructure. But despite their growing importance, these titans of information are under substantial pressure to reduce a data centre’s environmental impact. A shift from fossil fuels to alternative fuels is inevitable. Read on to find out how to reduce your data centre’s greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining optimum efficiency.
The continuous growth of the data centre market is fuelled by an increase in global reliance for cloud and internet services. While great news for business, the burgeoning demand for data centre capacity has led to an increase in energy consumption and carbon emissions, producing as much CO2 as the airline industry.
There are a multitude of factors that affect energy usage, but with some careful consideration for energy, including prioritising renewable or other low-carbon energy sources and making slight changes to current approaches, data centres can work towards becoming 100% carbon neutral. Data centre managers who see a decrease in carbon emissions will likewise see a decrease in costs as a reduction in power consumption will go directly to the bottom line.
So how do you lessen a data centre’s environmental impact?
1. Invest in cooling techniques
Cooling is responsible for most of the power consumption in data centres – but badly designed cooling techniques are largely responsible for increased carbon emissions. Cold aisle corridors and free cooling have a positive impact on energy usage. Formed by locating services in closed off aisles with a roof and door at either end means the energy required is significantly reduced.
Data centres can also benefit from investing in ‘free’ cooling techniques like using the outside air and water to chill the water used in cold aisle corridors, instead of man-made techniques like air conditioning.
2. Use power on demand and monitoring
Installing effective power quality management systems will identify areas in the current power and cooling practices that could be causing problems. Remote sensors measure factors such as temperature, emissions and power, enabling data centres to receive instant notifications of any issues. This will ensure a simple bug is fixed before turning into millions of pounds in losses for a data centre and its customers.
3. Invest in new equipment
As equipment gets older, it consumes more energy to keep operational. Continuous technological developments mean that new and improved equipment is available which is better functioning and more energy efficient too.
4. Use renewable fuels
Emergency or contingency power is an important consideration for data centres and red diesel (gas oil) is the fuel of choice due to supply being readily available, cost-effective and energy-efficient enough to power a data centre in an emergency. However, data centres must be carbon conscious, and in this regard, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO fuel) is quickly becoming a viable and popular alternative to red diesel.
Last year’s Greenpeace report concluded that they are already seeing a huge increase in some of the largest internet companies opting for renewables. Renewable fuels are key to achieving the Government’s recently implemented 2050 net zero greenhouse gas target – and HVO is breaking new ground.
HVO fuel is a FAME-free and fossil-free, second-generation biofuel that can be used as drop-in replacement for mineral diesel. It’s made from 100% sustainable sources and is approved for use by a wide range of OEMs.
In terms of its environmental impact, HVO fuel offers a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating net CO2 and reducing NOx, PM and CO emissions. The green fuel requires no modifications to a data centre’s existing reserve power infrastructure – it’s completely miscible with mineral diesel in all proportions.
In addition to the environmental benefits, HVO offers a number of practical advantages over mineral diesel, including:
- Extended storage life of up to 10 years, provided good tank maintenance
- Fossil-free and FAME-free
- Cleaner, biodegradable and non-toxic in the event of the spill, unlike diesel
- A single high-quality grade that’s usable all year round, unlike other diesel blends which can freeze or plug filters in winter temperatures.
Furthermore, HVO fuel offers better stability than fossil diesel, which by law must contain up to 7% of FAME which degrades over time and promotes bacterial growth. This makes it well-suited to emergency generator applications since there’s a greatly reduced risk of problems for stationary engines that are out of use for extended periods.
5. Invest in renewable energy
Data centres can also make use of large unused roof spaces for solar panels and wind turbines instead of requiring additional space. They are a worthwhile low-maintenance and long-term addition to helping to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions.
It’s time to reduce your data centre’s environmental impact – get in touch
Crown Oil Ltd is an award-winning, leading UK fuel distributor that specialises in the supply of red diesel, diesel, HVO fuel, lubricants and fuel storage solutions. In addition, we offer highly effective planned preventative maintenance (PPM) services such as fuel testing and polishing, emergency fuel deliveries and bespoke contracts to eliminate costly downtime due to fuel-related generator failure.
We understand the unique demand critical facility installations face, which is why our team of experts are on hand 24/7. We bring our 70 years’ experience to bear on our customers’ fuel related needs, and our state-of-the-art engineered solutions are available to overcome the hurdles data centres face. With increasing pressure to reduce the effects of climate change, we have a number of sustainable solutions, including fossil-free fuel and carbon offset red diesel to help the industry lessen its environmental impact.