Renewable Green Energy for IT Data Centers

by Andy Goldman on December 11, 2011

Renewable Green Energy, RGE, is more and more used for the powering of modern IT Data Centers. Modern Data centers are undisputedly large consumers of energy and electricity. This increased consumption is of great concern to Data Center managers who turn to Renewable Green Energy to reduce their costs, increase efficiency of the data centers and at the same reduce the CO2 emissions, thus creating a Green, environment friendly Data Center.

Large organizations, such as Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft, who have large Data Centers throughout the world and care about the environment, have turned to Renewable Green Energy. They are building new data centers by consolidating older ones and they make sure that the new ones are powered, fully or partially, by renewable green energy sources.

The main reason Data Center operators turn to renewable green energy or alternative energy as they call it, is the cost. The operational cost of data centers has outgrown the cost of real estate, capital cost for building the data center. The operational cost of a data center is electricity which is split in two parts, electricity for the running of the data center hardware and electricity for running the cooling and lighting of the data center. Recent statistics show that for every dollar that is spent on data center hardware, there is a need for 50 cents to be spent of running and cooling this hardware! What is more worrying to all is that the electricity cost per kilowatt hour ,kwhr, increases year after year thus driving the operational costs higher and higher.

One of the ways to control electricity cost is to generate on site all or part of the electricity needed for the data center operation. This is often called and known as the Distributed Generation, DG, option. Once the decision for distributed electricity generation is made then the Data center operators often consider the Renewable Green Energy sources as the possible sources for electricity.

Then the question that comes to mind is: Which renewable green energy source should we use for data centers?  There are many alternative green energy sources that can be used and in many ways it depends on the physical location of the data center. The main alternative green energy sources available to Data Center Operators are: Solar, Wind, Biomass, Hydro and Fuel Cells.  Whatever the choice is, the alternative energy source should be capable to produce the electricity needed to cover the needs of the data center at peak needs. There are renewable energy sources such as Solar and Wind, that are more suited for peak shaving that is  to cover needs in case of excessive demand and other sources like Biomass and Fuel cells that can be used for continuous electricity production for medium data centers. It should be understood that renewable green energy sources are difficult and costly to scale up and thus they may not be suitable to cover the full needs of large data centers.

New and modern data centers built by the giants like Facebook and Google set new standards in data center design taking into account their environmental responsibility and introducing this commitment in the data centers from their design phase. The recent data center built by the social networking giant, Facebook, incorporated renewable energy standards such as solar energy heat recycling and even rainwater reclamation for cooling.

It is clear and evident to all that renewable green energy, RGE, will play an increasingly important role in the design and operation of IT and more specifically that of the Data Centers. In the articles to follow we will examine the various options from different angles so as to give the first insights to this exciting and important field.

About the Author

Andy Goldman

Andy Goldman is a 27-year veteran in the service industry with managerial, strategic, operational and consulting experience. Has managed teams of 5-45 people and has also managed several multidiscipline projects. He has worked in Europe and the USA and holds a BSc and MSc in Electrical Engineering and an MBA with a minor in Finance. For the past 5 years he has been an enthusiast of renewable technologies. Article by Andy Goldman You can connect with Andy Goldman at Google+

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