With the demands on data centers increasing, fueled in part by the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, expectations are rising for uptime to remain consistent — at 100 percent 24/7. Yet, there is also an increasing expectation that data centers will address the equally rising demand for power.
The U.S. Department of Energy, for example, has launched a “Better Buildings Challenge” initiative that encourages commercial buildings, institutions, and multi-level housing developments to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020. Within a five-year period, partners in the program have contributed to a reduction in energy costs that has resulted in $1.3 billion in savings as well as the reduction of 10 million tons of harmful carbon emissions, according to the DOE.
Currently, 310 Better Buildings Challenge partners — which represent 34,000 buildings and facilities — have set goals to reduce energy use by at least 20 percent by 2020.
As part of that challenge as well as other initiatives,, companies are seeking innovative ways to decrease data centers’ environmental footprint. “The focus for data centers is reliability, and that requires uninterruptible electricity,” Equinix’s David Rinard said in an article for Reit.com.
Rinard, the senior director of global sustainability for the company, said innovations are focusing on reducing power dependency through infrastructure, air conditioning, and temperature control.
Enterprise companies that largely rely on data centers are leading the way in testing out innovations involving hydro, solar and wind to generate electricity — reducing dependence on carbon dioxide generating fuels. Google, eBay, Microsoft and Facebook are among those that are committing to use all green operations in their data centers.
Here are just a few recent initiatives:
- Apple, Facebook, eBay and Microsoft are among the companies who have stated a commitment to transition to all green data center operations. That trend is expected to become mandatory for other companies as the United States has pledged to have 50 percent of its electricity generation to come from clean sources by 2025.
- Apple is testing out two massive solar farms — each on 100 acres — to provide fuel using a multiple fuel-cell electricity generator that relies on bio-gas produced from nearby landfills. According to Apple, each of the farms is able to produce 42 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
- A data center operated by eBay in Utah relies on 30 Bloom Energy fuel cells, the same type that Apollo spacecraft depended upon for its flight to the moon. It also depends upon solar panels installed on the data center’s roof, and coal power in the area for backup only.