Business is more data-driven today than ever before. Data usage, storage, and exchange all consume energy. As an eco-conscious business, it is imperative to consider the implication of data-related energy consumption. Does it enhance or undermine your sustainability efforts? What can you do to attain energy efficiency in your data-related processes? You can find answers to these questions at the intersection of data and energy.
Evolution of Data and Energy
Datacenters are going green, while power grids become smarter. Energy grids have evolved from traditional pole-and-line to IoT-enabled smart networks. Today’s power grids facilitate two-way transmissions, allowing users to integrate renewable energy resources. You can install solar panels on your business premises and channel surplus power into the grid. Smart grids use IoT devices to collect data from across the network to optimize forecasting, billing, and consumption. However, data center operators like Microsoft are the most influential drivers of sustainability at the intersection of data and energy.
The ever-increasing number of eco-conscious businesses is enough to entice data center operators to adopt sustainable practices. Today, about 43% of multi-tenant data centers leverage innovative technologies to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability. Microsoft started integrating its data centers and renewable power generation in 2012. The company’s vision for "data plants" provides a roadmap for other operators to adopt sustainable practices and renewable energy resources in their facilities. Whether you own a data center or data-driven company, you can find solutions to business problems at the intersection of data and energy.
What are the Top Trends at the Intersection of Data and Energy?
Datacenter operators build their facilities closer to renewable energy sources. Joining server farms to power stations that use wind or waste gases can cut greenhouse gas emissions. Top trends at the intersection of data and energy go beyond purchasing green energy from external sources. Datacenter operators are redefining how they acquire and distribute power in their data centers.
On-site power plants
Integrating power plants into the data center eliminates transmission lines, substations, and transformers from the equation. This approach reduces transmission losses and improves energy efficiency. It also increases operators’ control over infrastructural changes. They can adopt green and smart technologies quickly and easily to enhance sustainability and reliability.
Data as energy
According to stats, internal distribution losses account for 10%-12% of the energy consumed by data centers. Companies like Google and Facebook redesigned their data centers and power distribution units (PDUs) to reduce energy loss. Because data is a form of energy, improving data transmission can help enhance efficiency. For example, Microsoft’s data plants use integrated optical grids to transmit data. This concept refines power distribution, reducing energy losses.
Electric companies and data center operators leverage IoT-enabled devices and cloud-based analytics for real-time tracking and monitoring. These solutions enable extensive data collection and analysis, crucial for efficient resource management. IoT and analytics play a critical role at the intersection of data and energy.
Partnering on power
Moving bits over fiber is more cost-effective than transmitting electricity over the grid. As a business owner, partner with energy companies to define how data and power flow through your ecosystem. For example, shorten the grid and extend the fiber to transmit power cost-effectively. Being part of an energy distribution network allows you to track electric fees charged by different providers and switch to the cheapest source.
Operators and electric companies have invested billions in research and technologies to address challenges at the intersection of data and energy. Business owners can find data centers that use renewable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint. Datacenter operators can borrow a page from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook to cut costs and attain sustainability and reliability in their facilities. Evolve to thrive in today’s data-driven world.