The general awareness and concern about climate change is steadily increasing each year, as the urgency and magnitude of the issue become more apparent. In response, there’s a push across industries to mitigate the environmental impacts of operations. For tech companies, this often means achieving carbon-free data centers.
Data centers are essential; however, they also demand high energy usage. So, to achieve carbon neutrality in this sector, companies need to leverage new technologies to separate the growing service demand from increased energy usage.
Of course, there are multiple different views on how to achieve sustainability. For instance, some believe that a permanent reduction of carbon emissions is possible. Others think that increasing energy efficiency and offsetting remaining carbon emissions to achieve net zero is a more realistic way to maintain modern infrastructure. Either way, sustainable energy use is the goal.
In this article, we’ll cover how new liquid cooling technology is making carbon-free data centers possible.
Are Carbon-Free Data Centers Possible?
The short answer is yes. In fact, many of the leading tech companies have already reached carbon neutrality. And most aren’t stopping there.
- Google states that it reached carbon neutrality in 2007, and further pledges to operate on completely carbon-free energy by 2030. To that end, the tech giant has committed to aggressive increases in data center efficiency by focusing on power usage effectiveness (PUE) in terms of cooling down servers.
- Microsoft is taking its public commitment one step further by promising to be carbon negative by 2030. They’re working towards this goal by investing in the development of carbon removal, capture, and reduction technologies.
- Apple committed to a 100% carbon-neutral supply chain in 2020. The company’s primary focus in achieving this metric is to reduce emissions resulting from manufacturing, distribution, and product design.
Why Tech Companies Hesitate in Transitioning to Carbon-Free Data Centers
Clearly, tech companies are increasingly committed to making their operations sustainable. However, as with any operational transition, overhauling current modes of energy production and consumption presents several challenges.
Firstly, the novelty of certain renewable energy sources limits their availability. To fulfill the high and growing demands of data centers, tech companies will need to actively develop more renewable infrastructure. Of course, high demand for a finite resource subsequently drives up prices. This fact, when coupled with increased upfront installation and maintenance fees, makes carbon-free data centers cost more to run than their counterparts.
Additionally, as data centers consume notoriously high quantities of energy to operate, switching to renewable sources often requires investment in more advanced infrastructure. Energy-efficient hardware and liquid cooling systems come with upfront costs, but ultimately significantly reduce energy consumption and therefore enable the switch to renewables.
What Can Tech Companies Do?
Despite the potential challenges tech companies face when making the transition to carbon-free data centers, the switch remains both practically and ethically necessary. Businesses know that they have a finite amount of time and traditional resources left.
Both the long-term health of operations and the public’s perception of a company hinge on investing in renewable resources. Of course, the most important concern remains the universal existential threat to societies posed by unchecked pollution.
So, companies must find ways to reach carbon neutrality. Luckily there are practical steps that can be taken right now to mitigate unsustainable energy consumption in data centers.
1. Consider Using Renewable Energy
The most readily apparent solution is to switch to renewable energy like solar, wind, or geothermal sources. However, as noted, the quantity of energy necessary to run a data center can be difficult to source as green infrastructure is currently underdeveloped. However, this doesn’t preclude companies from investing in their own energy production through on-site solar panels or wind turbines.
For companies that can’t invest in their own green energy sources, power purchase agreements (PPAs) or renewable energy certificates (RECs) are an increasingly viable option to tap into off-site sources. Businesses can use their off-site power sources in tandem with internally produced green energy, or as a sole supply to reduce or eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.
2. Switch to Energy-Efficient Hardware
Taking proactive measures to minimize energy consumption in day-to-day operations is essential for data centers to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Data centers with reduced consumption will have an easier time fully transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Hardware advancements are necessary to mitigate energy requirements, and although they do require an upfront investment, they will generate long-term savings by reducing consumption quantity. Air cooling systems are one of the most energy-intensive functions in most data centers. Therefore, switching to modern liquid immersion cooling systems can significantly improve energy efficiency.
3. Sustainable Architecture and Design
The use of renewable energy can be further enhanced by eco-friendly building design. Firstly, a green roof not only absorbs rainwater but also reduces heat island effects through heavy insulation. This, when used in tandem with efficient liquid cooling, significantly reduces the amount of energy it takes to maintain the appropriate temperature for servers.
Heat recovery systems can also be installed to repurpose the wasted warmth generated through data center operations. The excess heat can then be used to generate electricity or heat nearby buildings.
Convert to Carbon-Free Data Centers with Liquid Immersion Cooling Technology
Converting to carbon-free data centers is a simple matter of switching to sustainable and energy-efficient power sources and hardware. Of course, cutting down the required amount of energy it takes to cool a data center is the first step for many tech companies. So, if your company is aiming for a more sustainable future, you’ll want to upgrade to liquid immersion cooling technology.
Green Revolution Cooling (GRC) offers greater energy efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements through their advanced liquid cooling systems. Replacing traditional air cooling methods with GRC’s liquid immersion system can significantly reduce the amount of energy required to run your data centers. This not only makes the switch to fully renewable sources more feasible, it can also substantially reduce electricity costs.
Reach out to the experts at Green Revolution Cooling to learn more about their liquid immersion cooling system today.