In today’s technological climate, using green energy for data centers might seem like a luxury reserved for organizations with a high-income level that can afford an expensive project. But organizations are reaping benefits from using green energy in their facilities. The cost savings alone invest in the technology are worth it for even small businesses. The cost will decrease as more companies discover the benefits of using green energy for data centers.
Green energy has become a priority for data center managers and their respective energy providers. Data centers represent a sizable chunk of power consumption. The rising cost of electricity and the desire to be more environmentally friendly has led companies to pursue alternative methods of acquiring energy and reducing their carbon footprint. For data center managers who are looking to make a change in their facility’s energy source, there are several options available. Here we will look at some of these options and how to get started with green energy for your data center.
Why should we use green energy for data centers?
There are many reasons why green energy for data centers are important—for the environment, for the future of our technology, and for the people who live near the facilities.
Energy costs are rising and will continue to rise as they’re tied to the price of oil. This is problematic for some reasons, particularly for data centers that consume large amounts of power. Suppose a data center’s energy costs are high enough. In that case, it can be an opportunity for competitors—who may not be paying the exact price for energy—to undercut them on cost and make their services more desirable. Running an efficient data center with green energy could ensure this doesn’t happen.
Renewable energy sources are a more secure investment than fossil fuels like coal and diesel fuel because they are not susceptible to the volatile changes in supply and demand that can cause spikes in fuel prices. In addition, renewable energy is an environmentally friendly form of energy that helps reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. When you choose a renewable source of electricity to power your data center, you’re choosing a clean source of power that doesn’t contribute to these problems.
Going green is no longer a choice for many organizations, especially those dealing with data centers. Data centers that fail to implement sustainable practices risk having their customers and clients question their environmental commitment. The good news is that it’s easy to switch to green energy.
The first thing you need to do is identify what type of green energy you want to use: solar, wind, geothermal, or hydro, each of which has its pros and cons. Then, you need to assess your current needs and decide if it’s economically feasible for your company.
Climate Change and Net-Zero Pact
Data centers are responsible for increasing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The industry has been slow to acknowledge its contribution to climate change, but there is a growing awareness of this issue within the sector. The tech industry, in general, is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact, including using renewable energy sources. At the same time, customers are demanding that data center operators take action to address their impact on climate change.
To successfully implement green energy initiatives, leaders need to understand how sustainable energy works and the environmental benefits it provides. They also need to identify opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint of servers and storage equipment; these systems.
The Paris Agreement, which was supported by over 200 nations, including the United States, aims to uphold the goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, companies have a greater financial incentive to switch to renewable power sources. Solar and wind energy are now cheaper than coal or nuclear energy in many regions. Costs of renewable energy are expected to continue declining over time as manufacturing volume increases and technology advances. The prices of solar panels and wind turbines have dropped dramatically in recent years due to economies of scale.
Green Energy Options
While many data centers have already begun to take advantage of the benefits of renewable energy, it can take time to know where to start. It’s much easier when you have a clear picture of your needs, and that’s one thing you can do before diving in.
Things to Consider
The first step to getting started with green energy for your data center is to audit your current power sources.
- What kind of fuel does your facility use?
- How much does it cost you?
- How efficient is the plant from which you buy your energy?
- What about your data center facility?
- Are there ways to improve your efficiency, or can you implement a greener alternative to help you reach your goals?
After assessing your current situation, plan out how you would like things to look in the future. Decide what needs to happen to make that plan happen.
To get started with green energy for your data center, you must first research your options. There are numerous types of green energy out there that can help reduce your carbon footprint, including:
- Wind Power
- Hydro Power
- Solar Power
- Biomass Energy
- Tidal Stream Energy
Once you’ve decided which type(s) of green energy you’d like to implement in your facility, you need to start by doing a cost-benefit analysis. The first item on this list is critical because it will help determine whether or not implementing green energy is feasible for your business in the long run. This analysis should include a breakdown of the initial costs and the annual operating expenses associated with the above options. After analyzing these numbers, you’ll be able to identify which green energy sources are affordable.
Two primary renewable energy sources are solar panels and wind turbines. Both types of technology can be installed at data centers as a part of a large-scale installation or as a stand-alone solution. Both cases require backup power because they do not always produce electricity. Wind turbines require wind, and solar panels require sunshine to operate efficiently. Both technologies can be used together on large scales.
Step to be greener for your data center.
If you’re responsible for an organization’s data center, you’re probably concerned with the environmental impact of your electrical consumption. As organizations like yours continue to grow in size and complexity, the amount of energy consumed by your data center will continue to grow as well – leading to an unsustainable situation in which data centers consume more and more power at a time when we are becoming increasingly conscious of our carbon footprint.
You can be the change. Here are some suggested steps to help get your data center started on the path toward greener energy:
- Find out what you’re consuming and how much—start with a baseline measurement of your environment by measuring all of your equipment, including servers, networking gear, monitors and other peripherals, power supplies, and even HVAC systems. Then record how much electricity each piece uses when it is running normally.
- Figure out what you can do to reduce the energy you use—you can probably do some things yourself (like turn off lights in unused areas or unplug underutilized devices). Still, you may want to enlist the help of an outside firm that specializes in green IT solutions.
- Think about alternatives to traditional power sources. When designing a data center, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact that your choice of power sources will have. The overwhelming majority of data centers use traditional power sources like steam, natural gas, and diesel as their primary source of power. These sources typically require a certain amount of physical infrastructure to maintain, including generators, boilers, fuel tanks, and cooling units. While these power sources are great for the immediate needs of your data center, they also come with some downsides.
Green energy is a hot-button topic in the modern technology industry. As data centers proliferate and their power consumption increases, more and more businesses are looking to reduce their carbon footprint to appeal to eco-friendly customers or to improve their public image.
A data center’s energy consumption depends on its size and the number of servers, but its cost is always tied to the price of electricity. To achieve the most significant cost reduction, businesses must find ways to efficiently use their energy, including adding renewable technologies whenever possible.
Green energy isn’t simply any renewable source that is good for the environment. To be “green,” a source of power must meet specific standards:
- It must reduce CO2 emissions significantly over time.
- It should be cost-efficient.
- It should be easily accessible.
Though many others exist, the most familiar green energy sources are solar and wind.
Climate change is real, affecting the world in myriad ways. A small investment in green energy for your data center can pay off big in the long run by reducing expenses, tax liabilities, and carbon footprint.
Read next: Powering Digital Transformation Should Consider the Environment.