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5 Ways to Reduce a Data Centre’s Environmental Impact While Preserving Efficiency

What can be done to minimise the effect of data centres on the environment?

Data centres are the factories of the digital age, forming an essential part of the national data infrastructure – but they are also some of the largest energy users in the UK. The continuous growth of the data centre market is fuelled by an increase in global reliance on 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. Putting them under substantial pressure to reduce their environmental impact. A shift to cleaner energy generation is inevitable.

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. In this article, we’ll look into some of the ways a data centre can reduce its environmental impact.

data centre's environmental impact

How can you lessen a data centre’s environmental impact?

As the internet grows and our reliance on data ‘on the go’ increases, data centres are increasing in size and using ever greater amounts of electricity to power their facilities. As the country moves towards its Net Zero target, steps must be taken by all businesses, including data centres to reduce their impact on the environment. We’ve looked at some of the ways they can look to lower their CO2 emissions.

1. Invest in renewable energy for your data centre

Renewable energy provides a great long-term solution for data centres looking to reduce their environmental impact. Whether that includes switching to renewable energy tariffs or installing solar panels on unused roof spaces, investing in more sustainable energy sources can cut your emissions while also being more cost-effective by reducing your energy consumption.

2. Monitor your data centre’s current power usage

Installing effective power quality management systems will identify areas in your 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.

These ensure a simple bug is fixed before turning into millions of pounds in losses for a data centre and its customers. Assessing your data centre’s load capacity will also help with your backup fuel by determining the minimum load capacity necessary to sustain critical operations during power outages.

3. Update your data centre’s cooling techniques and equipment

As cooling is responsible for the most power consumption in data centres, moving to more efficient cooling techniques is a great way to cut carbon emissions.

What data centre cooling methods can improve energy efficiency?

  • Hot and cold aisle cooling – Alternating hot and cold aisles conserves energy by managing airflow more efficiently
  • Free cooling – For facilities located in colder climates, free cooling involves venting hot air outside and then drawing pre-chilled air from outside to cool equipment
  • Liquid cooling – liquid is more efficient at transferring heat than air and can also support greater equipment densities.

In addition to your cooling techniques, older equipment could be consuming more energy than necessary to remain operational. Continuous technological developments mean that investing in new cooling equipment for your data centre can improve energy efficiency and further reduce your environmental impact (make sure to recycle your old equipment!).

4. Manage your stored backup fuel to prevent leaks

If your data centre backup fuel is not managed appropriately it can leak into the ground causing an unnecessary safety hazard to your employees and the environment.

What are the best practices for data centre fuel storage?

  • Clear hatches and close caps tightly
  • Check that pumps operate free of unusual noises or issues
  • Ensure the area surrounding your fuel tank is free of debris or overgrown plants
  • Check your tanks for signs of damage such as bulges, cracks or rust

Download our fuel tank maintenance checklist to learn more ways to better look after your fuel.

While these basic checks will help with your fuel storage, they will not protect your fuel tanks from more complex issues such as clogged pipework or diesel gelling. Working to the highest standards and accreditations, our experienced engineers are here to help manage your stored fuel to prevent leaks and help keep your site safe.

Our environmental services not only prevent environmental harm but also ensure the continuity of your data centre’s operations in the event of an emergency or power outage.

5. Switch from standard diesel backup fuel to renewable HVO

Emergency or contingency power is an important consideration for data centres to ensure systems are operational round-the-clock. That’s why it’s important to choose a fuel that you can rely on when you need it most. HVO fuel (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) is an advanced, fully renewable diesel alternative that reduces net CO2 emissions by up to 90% and offers many other benefits over its fossil-fuel counterparts.

With backup fuel needed to be stored throughout the year, HVO’s excellent cold-weather performance and low cloud point give it an advantage over diesel which can experience problems with gelling during the winter. HVO also has a storage life of up to 10 years, making it suitable for backup fuel that may be stored for long periods of time.

Other environmental benefits of HVO include:

  • FAME-free, fossil-free and sulphur-free
  • Biodegradable and non-toxic in the event of a spill
  • Significant reduction of particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO)
clean our air with hvo

We’ve helped many businesses switch to HVO fuel

As one of the leading suppliers of HVO fuel in the UK, we’ve been tasked with helping numerous businesses make the switch from standard diesel fuel to HVO fuel. You can learn more about how we worked alongside Kao Data to become the first UK data centre to make the switch to HVO fuel.

Here at Crown Oil, we employ the industry’s leading experts that make switching to HVO fast, simple and non-disruptive for your data centre. Discover more benefits of HVO fuel for yourself, whilst you consider how your data centre or other type of organisation moves towards a more sustainable future.

It’s time to reduce your data centre’s environmental impact

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 over 75 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.

To learn more about HVO fuel and how your data centre can make the switch to a more sustainable future. Contact our HVO experts on 0330 123 1444 to get your questions answered.

tonnes of net CO2 reduced across our transport fleet from using HVO

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