Resource consumption of data centres
Figures from The Shift Project in France
suggest that by 2025, 8% of global CO2
production will come from the digital economy.
However efficient they are, it is important to remember that data centres still require large amounts of both electricity and water to operate and produce CO2
as a result.
Data centres are estimated to be responsible for up to 3% of global electricity consumption today
and are projected to touch 4% by 2030. The average hyperscale data centre facility (Hyperscale data centres are massive facilities built by companies with vast data processing and storage needs
) consumes 20-50MW annually – theoretically enough electricity to power up to 37,000 homes.
Servers also generate tremendous amounts of waste heat making water consumption for cooling another significant resource requirement. Hyperscale data centres are estimated to use 1.7m litres of water a day (622m litres a year)
. This is contrasted against UN predictions that by 2025 50% of the world’s population is projected to live in water-stressed areas. Whilst climate change and human consumption of water are key reasons for this, data centre usage creates another pressure on reserves.
Because of the essential nature of the data stored in a data centre, everything must have a backup with full redundancy should the primary servers fail. This means backup servers, backup power supplies, and backup cooling systems. Effectively, twice the capacity is required at all times to ensure failover.
With more and more businesses demanding cloud services, the number and size of data centres will continue to grow. The environmental footprint of data centres to maintain these now essential services is considerable. It is therefore vital that companies think about their environmental impact and the digital solutions and devices they use during their digital transformation.
Despite this, there are figures that prove that the switch from on-premise servers to the cloud still results in significant energy savings and CO2
reductions. Cloud computing is capable of improving energy efficiency by 93%, and producing 98% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than on premises IT infrastructure, according to the Microsoft-WSP collaborative study