Singapore Opening Up New Opportunities for Data Center Energy Savings

19 Aug 2014 by Technology

"To be a data center hotspot on the world stage is one thing, but to do that while also holding those centers to an across-the-board standard of sustainability deserves a much higher level of commendation. The country of Singapore boasts not only a burgeoning data center industry, but also a remarkable commitment to environmental efficiency. As such, it should serve as a model for other countries looking to build up a similarly robust data center sector - one that runs with efficiency and integrity.

Singapore Government Sets Aside Money for Data Center Efficiency
According to Datacenter Dynamics, the government of Singapore has proven its commitment to running energy-efficient data centers byallocating a significant chunk of money for that purpose. The government recently decided to funnel $80 million into the development of better energy solutions for buildings in the country. A chunk of these funds will be put toward an industry that Singapore already has invented considerably in: data centers. Specifically, the money will go toward helping the data centers subsidize research that could lead to the implementation of green solutions for data center operations.

This government decision came about as part of a joint effort between The National Climate Change Secretariat and the National Research Foundation. The latter group put out a press release in which it stated that the effort represents a large-scale attempt to make Singapore a more sustainable country over the next two decades.

""The goals of the [effort] are to develop cost-competitive energy solutions that can be deployed within 20 years to improve Singapore's energy efficiency, reduce its carbon emissions and broaden its energy options to sustain economic growth,"" the press release stated.

Since data centers can be big energy consumers - particularly if not regulated properly - the push toward green data centers in the report represents a strategic move not only to improve center functionality, but also to reduce Singapore's overall footprint.

How Efficiency Will Happen - Even Against Adverse Environmental Circumstances
When it comes to countries that can benefit from things like natural temperature keeping data centers cool, Singapore is certainly not toward the top of the list. As a separate Datacenter Dynamics piece points out, an average day in Singapore runs roughly between 82 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Sweltering days like these don't come close to producing the natural conditions that would keep a data center running on super cool. But as i3 Solutions chairman Ed Ansett told Datacenter Dynamics, a data center hardly has to be an icebox to function optimally.

""We can look at running facilities at higher temperatures,"" he said, adding that centers can even be placed in extreme heat for set periods of time and be fine. ""Companies like Dell say they can run servers at 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) for a certain number of hours a year.""

According to Ansett, Singapore's push for green data centers is rapidly placing the country at the forefront of environmental sustainability efforts within nations. The emerging example of Singapore as a data center efficiency hotspot is a cause for celebration, but it's not the first time energy-conservation strategies have been effectively employed to make better data centers. Here are a few other examples of environmentally-based innovations that have been used by centers in the past:
Lulea: When it comes to companies that generate massive amounts of data, Facebook tends to sit atop the list. It follows that they need strong data centers to handle the massive influx of information their site generates. But they do this in an energy-friendly way, as evidenced by the example of Lulea, the company's Swedish data center. What sets this center apart is that it is a 100 percent renewable operation, with the equipment that lines the interior of the center powered by hydro-electric energy. Whereas Singapore is quite hot, Lulea offers the perfect temperatures for harnessing outside air to keep the center cool. What this all boils down to is an absolutely enormous center that doesn't expend nearly the energy of many smaller centers.
Google'˜s data centers: Considering that Google is a company whose name is basically synonymous with data, it comes as no surprise that the company has a vast network of data centers. What makes these centers top-of-the-line, however, is that they are all run with a close eye to energy-efficiency.

'‹""We're focused on reducing our energy use while serving the explosive growth of the Internet,"" the company explained. ""Most data centers use almost as much non-computing or '˜overhead' energy (like cooling and power conversion) as they do to power their servers.""

As a company, Google ensures that its rapid and constant growth never comes at an environmental expense. With its highly sustainable data centers, the company is able to keep overhead to around 12 percent, while still remaining at the forefront of technological development."

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