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Research shows data centre sector is overlooking a potential CO2-eq emissions saving of over 3 million tonnes

Research shows data centre sector is overlooking a potential CO2-eq emissions saving of over 3 million tonnes

Data CentresPower & CoolingTop Stories

New research analysing the actual cooling performance within live data centres for many of the world’s leading brands suggests that data centre operators are missing out on proven ways of cutting cooling energy consumption by up to 30%. 

The analysis, conducted by EkkoSense – a world-leading provider of software-driven data centre thermal optimisation solutions – assessed cooling performance across a sample of some 133 data centre halls with analysis of over 33,000 IT racks. The results showed that the current average data centre cooling utilisation level is only 40%. EkkoSense’s research also identified that implementing an effective thermal optimisation programme has collectively secured a cumulative 10MW+ cooling power saving – equivalent to a minimum US$10 million cooling energy cost saving since deployment. In carbon terms, this equates to a cumulative saving of around 20,000 tonnes CO-eq emissions reduction. 

This level of performance optimisation applied to the broader global estate of 22,474 midsize, enterprise and larger hyperscale data centres suggests that potential worldwide cooling energy savings of over US$1.7 billion are realisable. Additionally, an overall carbon emissions reduction of some 3.38 million tonnes CO-eq worldwide can be secured simply by applying the systematic and synchronised application of data centre cooling optimisation best practices on a global basis. 

“With data centres already established as one of the world’s highest collective consumers of energy, it’s imperative that IT operations teams do everything they can to deliver the quick carbon reduction wins that will help organisations to deliver on their net zero commitments,” said Mark Acton, a leading data centre technical and standards consultant and an EkkoSense Non-Executive Director. “The good news is that with the latest generation of software-driven data centre optimisation solutions, there’s a real opportunity for organisations to achieve significant carbon reductions. Indeed, EkkoSense’s in-depth analysis of data centre thermal performance shows that it’s now possible to secure cooling energy consumption reductions of around a third simply by following current thermal optimisation best practices.”

“Data centre operators also need to recognise that optimising thermal performance positively impacts data centre risk management – however, it’s difficult to ask the right questions if you don’t actually have any granular visibility into how your individual racks and cooling equipment are performing,” said Anuraag Saxena, Data Centre Optimisation Manager at EkkoSense. “From our research, we know that only 5% of data centre M&E teams currently monitor and report equipment temperature actively on an individual rack-by-rack basis – and even less collect real-time cooling duty information or conduct any formal cooling resilience tests. So, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that our initial analysis showed that – at any given time – around 10-15% of data centre racks were actually well out of ASHRAE thermal compliance.”

Given that the typical response of many organisations facing IT cooling challenges is to further invest in more expensive cooling equipment, EkkoSense’s findings show that the underlying cause of poor data centre thermal compliance is clearly not a lack of cooling capacity. Instead, facility teams and other technical stakeholders should be focused on optimising their data centres’ thermal performance and using their investment in existing cooling systems more efficiently. This not only results in reduced cooling costs year-on-year, but also eliminates, or defers, the need for capital investment. 

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