Renewable Green Energy for Green IT Data Centers

Renewable Green Energy plays an increasing role in our life in many aspects and forms. The role of internet and computing is also increasing in our everyday life. Data centers are increasing in size and their demand for electricity, thus operating cost, is increasing exponentially.  This is where Renewable Green Energy, RGE, is called to play an important role in the operation of large data centers, transforming them to Green IT data Centers.

A data center is called Green IT data center when it contains Green technology and it is run, in full or partial mode, with renewable green energy. When we refer to the term Green IT we refer to IT whose components are designed and operate in a mode which is sustainable, environment friendly and energy efficient. Green IT equipment and components such as monitors, printers, CPUs and storage are made of material that are biodegradable and environment friendly. Once a data center is equipped with Green IT equipment it has to be operated using electricity. Green IT data centers are designed to be energy efficient and to run in full or partial mode with renewable green energy such as solar, wind, hydro and Biomass. It is important to note that even if a data center runs fully on renewable green energy it does not mean that it is a 100% Green IT data center since the power may not be used effectively thus its PUE, Power Usage Effectiveness, will be high. Note that a PUE as close to unity, 1,  implies an increasingly efficient data center. We will deal with the PUE and the Green IT computing in future articles.

When building a new data center one of the questions that data center managers must answer is: Which type or which combination of renewable green energy should be used to run the Green IT data center?  The Renewable Resource Data Center, RReDC, in the USA provides access to information needed by the data center managers to help them decide what the best energy source for the data center is. The center provides data, maps and tools for Biomass, geothermal, solar and wind energy availability at locations throughout the US. Almost all areas of the US can take advantage of these renewable green energy sources but some areas are most suited for some technologies than others since laws, regulations, site designs and others vary from state to state. The RReDC has dynamic maps, analysis tools and GIS data that can help in the selection of the right site and right technology to be used at the Green IT data center.

As we have mentioned in our previous article the scaling up of Renewable Green Energy, RGE, is costly, thus a data center that uses at least 20% of its total energy from renewable sources is labelled as a Green IT data center. This percentage is of course dynamic and changes as more and more data centers invest in renewable green energy and are willing to produce renewable green energy on site.  In examining the available technologies in brief we observe that:

Solar: is the preferred energy source for data centers. Photovoltaic, PV, is the preferred form of power for the data centers as it is the first renewable that comes to mind and the most mature of all. Solar thermal is the other form of solar and it is gaining momentum as more investments take place in this area and it is the technology that seems to be most suited for large, mega, data centers

Wind: Wind technology is considered to be the best cost-technology of the renewable energies and it is also suited for mega data centers. However this technology is not offered for on-site production and thus the data center managers sign up agreements with Wind farm energy producers.

Hydro: It is becoming the renewable energy of choice for large data centers that are situated near hydro energy production plants and the existence of a hydro power station in an area may be the pole of attraction of large data centers

Other renewable green energy sources are also gradually used in a smaller scale for powering up Green IT data centers. It is believed by many analysts that we are still in the infancy of this sector and we have more changes and innovations to see in this area.