How Climate Change Impacts Data Center Site Selection

7 Feb 2022 by Michael Kriech

Environmentally friendly data centers are becoming more prominent as high-power data centers become more common. As the volume of data expands, so does the data center's size, demanding more power to manage it. As a result, a growing number of companies are creating environmentally friendly data centers to address climate change.

Pressure from digitalization and climate change conflict in data centers. Organizations want new digital infrastructure to process and store the growing amount of data they produce – and they require it quickly. However, that infrastructure must have as little of an environmental impact as possible and operate for years despite climate change.

Ultimately, a data center is a long-term investment, and selecting a location necessitates consideration of the business's demands as well as the requirements of the local community.

With that, here are some ways in which data center site selection has been altered due to climate change:

Energy Demands

As more and more data needs to be processed, the larger a data center must get. Thus, the greatest method to reduce a data center's environmental impact and operating costs is to reduce the amount of power it requires.

Energy losses in the cooling system of a data center might account for a large portion of the total power requirement. A data center's Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) is determined by dividing the absolute power consumed by the power used primarily for computing. The system is more efficient if the ratio is close to 1.0.

With this in mind, paying close attention to temperature, reducing excessive server utilization, and optimizing power storage dynamics are all relatively low-cost strategies to make data centers more energy-efficient. The cooling of servers consumes around 40% of the energy used by data centers.

Passive cooling, a system that prevents hot and cold air from mixing, and immersive liquid cooling, where servers get immersed in a rack filled with coolant that can have a thousand times the heat capacity of air, are two options for increasing efficiency. The heat from the servers gets absorbed by the coolant, which gets removed from the rack.

Resource Scarcity

Data centers have spearheaded renewable energy commitments. IT businesses are also increasingly supporting the establishment of sizable renewable energy within their utility jurisdictions.

The next logical step in this process is for tech companies and corporate data-center customers to create their renewable energy capacity, either on-site or inside their utility service areas.

AWS, for instance, is actively investing in new wind farms in the United States and Europe, including a new 91.2MW project off the coast of Donegal, Ireland, to supply its data centers in the Dublin area. In addition, many businesses are considering solar power if their locations are suitable.

Whereas wind and solar are both weather-dependent, tidal power is a more reliable, stable option. Because tidal power is predictable, the necessary energy storage systems may get sized efficiently and affordably.

Unpredictability of Site

Data center designers and operators must consider climate change and its consequences from the beginning of the asset creation process to ensure reliability.

Flooding, droughts, and lightning strikes produced by increasingly frequent storms might have catastrophic consequences. As a result, the location must consider the probability of increasing flooding or droughts, which could jeopardize crucial water sources.

Furthermore, even if you thoroughly assess a location for seismic activity, natural catastrophe risk, talent availability, and broadband availability, unforeseen factors might still ruin a project. The sheer intricacy of data center construction, for example, is a danger.

Multiple vendors, subcontractors, and up to 50 disciplines are often involved in the project, including structural, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, fuel pumps, networking, and security. As a result, the vast majority of data center failures are caused by human error. Nearly three-quarters of operators believe that improved management, processes, or setup might have prevented downtime in the most severe cases.

Skilled and experienced project managers must oversee the endeavor from start to finish to ensure a seamless operation.

Conclusion

Due to the digital revolution and climate, people's lifestyles and work environments have transformed, and digital infrastructure must adapt as well.

Data centers should be at the forefront of adopting clean, sustainable technology, promoting advancements that benefit society directly by reducing the usage of finite resources and lowering the cost of data storage and processing.

Data center construction is a long-term investment. Ultimately, when it comes to constructing a hyperscale data center, due diligence is likely the most important factor to consider.

Author

Michael Kriech

Michael brings twenty-three plus years of IT and telecommunications experience to Datacenters.com. With a wide range of expertise, Michael assists his clients in determining the best solutions needed for their technology roadmap. As information technology infrastructure evolves, Michael continues to suggest and present comprehensive, stable, and scalable solutions. This helps clients take advantage of the best and latest technologies that support company objectives while freeing up time to concentrate on core competencies. With a passion for helping organizations meet their goals, Michael is willing to go the extra mile to support his clients. A Navy Veteran and proud husband and father, Michael and his wife (Jessica) spend their spare time raising puppies as a volunteer for Canine Companion for Independence (CCI).

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