Data centers are expected to consume 19% more energy

The world’s data centers are expected to consume 19% more energy in the next 12 months than they have in the past year, according to results of a global industry census conducted by DatacenterDynamics (DCD). An interesting conclusion in the light of the report Jonathan Koomey released (new study) on data center electricity use in 2010. Which was a follow-up of the 2008 article: “Worldwide electricity used in data centers.

The 2007 EPA report to Congress on data centers (US EPA 2007) predicted a little less than a doubling in total data center electricity use from 2005 to 2010 if historical trends continued. But instead of this, In the U.S., the electricity used by data centers from 2005 to 2010 increased about 36 percent instead of doubling. And worldwide electricity consumption by data centers increased about 56 percent from 2005 to 2010 instead of doubling.

With the DCD forecast of a 19% energy growth the next 12 months it looks we are back on track again.

Data centers currently consume about 31GW, the census concludes. The average total power to rack is about 4.05kW, with 58% of racks consuming 5kW per rack, 28% consuming from 5kW to 10kW per rack and the rest consuming more than 10kW per rack.

Because energy demand is expected to rise so much, data center owners and operators are concerned about energy cost and availability. Analysis of the census data concluded that energy cost and availability is the number-one concern for them.

  • 44% believe that increased energy costs will impact significantly on their data center operations in the next 12 months – this is the highest ranked issue
  • 29% are concerned about the significant impact of energy availability (or the lack of it).

Energy concerns (c) DatacenterDynamics Global Industry Census 2011

Data center monitoring is directed by the priority to maintain availability (56%), reducing costs (31%) and reducing environmental impact scored 13%. According to DCD monitoring of energy efficiency is only conducted continuously by a minority of 42% although an equivalent proportion monitor it less regularly. This pattern is repeated for carbon emissions and is consistent with a lower priority given to the environmental impact of the data center.

Energy monitoring (c) DatacenterDynamics Global Industry Census 2011

Nevertheless these concerns big data centers are still being build in areas (for example London and Amsterdam) were lack of power supply has been touted as a supply constraining issue for years.

For example in the London arena:

  • Telehouse West, opened last March, 7.5MW of new capacity.
  • Telecity Harbour Exchange, 6MW opening in 2 phases.

And in the Amsterdam arena:

  • Switch 8.320 m2
  • Equinix  AM3 (in two phases 6400 m2 )
  • Terremark 2800 m2 first phase (10.000 m2 additional)

How can we explain these activities if power is in such tight supply?

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