Server Cooling Efficiencies Work Towards Net Zero Targets
Ironically for a year that began with wildfires in Australia and California, 2020 will close with climate change not at the top of the news agenda as it has been temporarily side-lined by COVID 19 and the complex economic and social issues that have resulted from the pandemic. However, climate change and significantly, the requirement for the UK to be a ‘net zero’ economy by 2050 remains highly significant for all businesses in the UK and is particularly significant for those businesses building, supplying and supporting data storage in server rack systems in all forms and at every scale. Eco rack cooling will become ever more important.
In 2019 as part of the ’ Clean and Green Growth Strategy, the UK Government set a target that will ‘require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels’. This legislation includes all UK business. Therefore, the ethos of actively managing and offsetting carbon emissions has become and remains to date a fundamental feature of planning for the future both at a national level and for all individual businesses.
While there is a natural conflict between promoting the requirements of the future in terms of working towards a net-zero economy and promoting the functioning of the present economy the importance of this to the future of all businesses is paramount. This conflict is apparent in and exemplified by the energy consumed by servers and rack cooling systems and the serious consequences for maintaining the server rack performance necessary for all aspects of the modern world. While tentative steps are possible by improved analysis of the thermal load in datacentres, a renewed and comprehensive commitment to analysing the carbon footprint of data centres of every scale is vital to the progress towards net zero and many efficiencies can be made.
Cooling is a particular aspect of the data centre environment that uses a lot of energy to function properly. Effectively cooled server cabinets in single units or large data centres consume as much as 35% of the power used by data centres and individual cabinets. Additional demands on data-centres and servers in smaller installations during the pandemic and the surges in hosted services have required additional cooling which has added thermal load, therefore, increasing the carbon footprint of data centres and server cabinets within businesses.
Server rack cooling, therefore, is a potential target for improved efficiencies to meet net-zero targets for reducing carbon emissions across the broad range of server cooling installations. Rack cooling can be improved by precision and analysis. Precision cooling and targeted cooling reduces the amount of cooling required for server racks and simply cools the server racks rather than cooling the whole room. A restructuring of cooling techniques in data centres and appropriately sized cooling units for single racks and server cabinets must be an obvious and initial point at which to address the possibility of getting datacentres and the server racks generally closer to net zero.
In conclusion. The world needs to reduce its energy consumption, and the power consumed by data centres and their cooling systems is pulling in the opposite direction. However, we are now in a position where the economic costs of carrying on as before are increasing, as well as being much more aware of the ecological costs of doing so. Increasing the efficiency of server cooling systems now makes financial and ecological sense.