Cooling data centres: A major economic challenge
Refrigeration: An increasingly strategic issue for data centres
Today, data centres play a key role in many businesses as information technology is becoming an increasingly strategic factor.
Cooling can present a major economic challenge for data centres. If cooling is implemented incorrectly or is inadequate, the amount of energy required to cool a data centre can equal or exceed that used to operate the equipment.
Larger data centres can use a staggering amount of energy just to ensure the day-to-day running of electronic equipment. As a result, these data centres can produce a great deal of heat, which require large-scale cooling systems in order to maintain efficient and continual operation.
Key data centre stakeholders
In essence, any structure that relies on electronic data to operate, for example financial institutions, national public services (health, police, etc.), information resource centres, administrations or social media platforms, requires adequate infrastructure to store information.
For example, social media microblogging giant Twitter has over 300 million monthly users around the globe sending over 500 million tweets a day, but unlike its social media counterparts, it has opted to lease data centre space rather than building its own; this however does not negate the need to implement adequate cooling systems.
The almost one million square foot data centre is currently the fourth or fifth largest data centre in the world (according to Forbes) and covers an area of approximately 17 football pitches.
At this data centre in Atlanta, Georgia (US), over 600 air conditioning units provide cooling.
Air conditioning is not only important for human health and well-being, and work efficiency, but it also has a major influence in the industrial area, in particular in the high-tech sectors, including Information Technology (IT). While data centres are responsible for about 1.3% of global electricity consumption, 50% of this consumption is used for cooling the equipment (29th IIR Informatory Note “The Role of Refrigeration in the Global Economy”).
Free cooling alternatives
Traditional approaches that focused on putting in place “maximum cooling” techniques are progressively being pushed aside by more sophisticated methods focused on heat removal or recovery, or exploiting the surrounding natural environment.
More companies are exploring free cooling alternatives in an aim to reduce costs, increase energy efficiency and implement sustainable cooling techniques.
Striving to reduce operating costs and carbon emissions in line with international objectives, natural cooling is a becoming a growing trend for data centres worldwide.
A promising outlook for the data centre cooling market
According to the "Data Center Cooling Market by Solution Report - Global Forecast to 2021", published by Markets and Markets, the global data centre cooling market is estimated to grow from USD 7.12 billion in 2016 to USD 14.28 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.95%.
With such a positive outlook and an indisputable valuable asset to many, it is no surprise that the data centre cooling market is increasingly becoming a common point of interest for stakeholders in a wide variety of sectors.
Consult a selection of articles and papers on data centres
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