The expansion of the data centre cooling market

As the data centre cooling market experiences rapid expansion, innovations in liquid cooling could have a significant impact on the industry.

Data centres, which house the computers, servers and IT networks necessary to process large amounts of data, play a significant role in modern society. There are more than 4,300 data centres worldwide, concentrated in the US (1741), the UK (249), and Western Europe (337 in France and Germany alone)1. Refrigeration has always been vital for data processing, but the growing volume of information, and the increasing complexity of the servers themselves, will lead to greater demand for cooling. Data centres account for 1.3% of global electricity consumption, and 50% of this energy is used to cool equipment2.

In its June 2018 issue3, JARN highlighted a report from Cisco which notes that the amount of information stored in data centres is expected to increase from 286 exabytes in 2016 to 1.3 zettabytes in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36%. MarketsandMarkets predicts that the data centre cooling market will grow from USD 7.12 billion to 14.28 billion in the same period, with a CAGR of 14.95%. However, such expansion will bring its own challenges with respect to cooling and energy needs.

Various methods have been used to cool data centres, including air conditioning, geothermal cooling, liquid cooling, immersion cooling, and natural air and water cooling. Though air conditioning is currently the most common cooling method, a growing number of data centres are turning to liquid cooling, which uses less energy to cool more powerful, high-density hardware. Liquid cooling methods include immersion cooling, whereby electronic hardware is immersed in a dielectric fluid capable of absorbing heat more than a thousand times more efficiently than air4, and cold plate cooling, whereby chilled water circulates across the heat exchanger, cooling the electronic components on the other side5. Stratistics Market Research Consulting predicts that the liquid cooling market for data centres will grow from USD 0.82 billion in 2015 to 4.55 billion in 20226. Against this background, Rittal has developed a system which combines a compressor cooling unit and heat pipe. This design can reduce energy consumption by up to 75% by triggering the refrigeration cycle only when cooling becomes necessary. Rittal recently exhibited at the Data Centre Expo in Japan.

As data centre servers become more powerful and energy-intensive, the need for cooling systems will increase. Global manufacturers in the industry, such as Schneider Electric, STULZ, Rittal, AdaptivCOOL, Coolcentric and ITAIRE, are expected to develop products to satisfy this demand.


1IIR Informatory Note “The role of refrigeration in the global economy

1JARN (Japan Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News), June 25, 2018