Cabinets inside a data module at the Nautilus Data Technologies facility in Stockton. (Photo: Nautilus Data)
Last week we continued a series of articles on the role that sustainability should play in the development and deployment of data centers. This week, we explore how the focus on sustainability could impact your power and connectivity choices.
Are there different choices to be made when focusing on sustainability in site selection? The answer is maybe. The choices that must be made are the same as for any traditional data center site, but with a focus on building a sustainable data center from the site. So let’s see how the focus on sustainability will impact your energy choices.
No matter how energy efficient you can achieve in your data center, a reliable power source is an absolute requirement. With a focus on providing a carbon-neutral data center, hyperscalers have invested in carbon credits, buying them to offset the energy generated to run their facility and its workloads. This methodology simplifies carbon neutrality, but is not the same as building a data center with one or more sustainable energy sources. Power cost concerns are basically the same for a sustainability-focused data center as for a traditional data center. However, a commitment to sustainable infrastructure can give you more flexibility in the cost of electricity.
There are five types of renewable energy recognized as such by the US government:
Hydroelectricity and Geothermal
Of these five types of renewable energy, only the first two, hydropower and geothermal, are both fully sustainable and capable of meeting the power needs of a data center. As with all of these solutions, the ability to deliver 100% of the power you need with these methods depends on the location of your data center site. Although there is hydroelectricity available in most places or electricity suppliers who buy their energy from hydroelectric sources, being able to specify a renewable energy source is not something possible in all places. Geothermal energy is only available in a small number of locations as the main source of energy, but it is readily available in countries like Iceland and New Zealand, which as small island nations mean that nationwide transmission costs are also kept low. Although the United States is the leader in geothermal energy production, led by California and Hawaii, it is not readily available as you move east from Utah.
Solar and Wind
Solar and wind energy are used to supplement energy production as renewable sources. Selecting energy providers that support or leverage these renewable technologies can improve your data center’s overall sustainability score.
Solar has now had years of development and the history of environmentally hazardous by-products of the production process is being successfully addressed.
Wind can be a very cost effective method of generating energy if implemented correctly. Solar has now had years of development and the history of environmentally hazardous by-products of the production process is being successfully addressed. Intermittency issues with solar and wind are mitigated by advances in battery technologies, with current batteries based on lithium-ion and LiFePO4 manufacturing processes solving many of the problems that the many versions of lead-acid batteries in use have not been able to resolve. .
Large-scale biomass energy production is mainly achieved via steam power plants where waste is used to generate electricity. According to the EIA, about
13.5 billion kilowatt hours of energy were generated by these facilities last year. Although there are places where this type of power supply is easily found and used by data center operators, there are less than 80 such installations in the United States, and the number is slowly decreasing over time. of their deletion.
There are few, if any, special considerations for connectivity in a well-selected sustainable data center site. Like any data center, the more connectivity options, the better. Unless specifically designed for a specific type of connectivity, your site should allow you to be carrier neutral with multiple ways to install fiber. The availability of dark fiber can also be a plus, further expanding the range of options for data center users.
Download the full article, “Sustainability in Data Center Site Selection“ courtesy of Nautilus Data Technologies, for more. In our next article, we’ll explore the impact of a focus on sustainability on your cooling choices, environmental impact, and your long-term outlook.