The act of bringing data centre development from the mainstream industry to the green building sector has reached a pinnacle as Hewlett Packard (HP) has unveiled plans for the world’s first zero carbon data centre.
As explained by Greenpeace in a series of informative reports into the carbon emission output by various major IT corporations, data is dirty. Recently, major data providers and users have been switching over to greener practices and environments.
However, while making energy efficiency changes to the physical building structures themselves has proved to significantly cut carbon, some of the cleverest green initiatives have seen an overall change to the architecture of the data centre system.
This is the case with HP’s prototype architecture, which uses a stringent energy efficiency running system, combined with holistic energy-management techniques, in order to allow its data centre to perform completely off-grid, reduce overall energy use by 30 per cent and cut associated costs by 80 per cent.
“Information technology has the power to be an equalizer across societies globally, but the cost of IT services, and by extension the cost of energy, is prohibitive and inhibits widespread adoption,” says Cullen Bash, HP technologist and interim director of HP Labs Sustainable Ecosystems Research Group. “The HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center not only aims to minimize the environmental impact of computing, but also has a goal of reducing energy costs associated with data-centre operations to extend the reach of IT accessibility globally.”
Renewable energy will be used extensively throughout the physical structure of the data centre, with the majority of the energy going to cooling servers. As one of the ‘brownest’ practices undertaken in data centres, the associated energy and costs saved on cooling the servers would seem like an aggressive enough green plan. In order to go off-grid, however, HP has gone further than that, analysing not only how to function more efficiently, but when.
Cleverly, the centre’s management focuses on a timeframe where peak loads are correlated directly with optimum renewable energy availability.
“The HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture integrates energy and cooling supply from local renewable sources, with a novel demand-management approach that allows the scheduling of IT workloads based on resource availability and performance requirements,” the company explains.
This prototype system plan stands as a benchmark for the trending work in green data centre development. With new innovation and technologies that offer to simplify energy efficiency in data centres, the notion of a completely off-grid centre will become increasingly achievable. This is the next major step in turning such a highly carbon-emitting sector into a green force, making it a concept to watch over the coming year.