Data centres are power hungry and need uninterrupted access to power at a large scale. Indian data centre industry capacity is expected to double by 2023 and reach over 1GW from 499 MW IT power load capacity in H1 2021 driven by strong digitalisation, rising cloud adoption and ambitious growth plans of DC operators.
Considering the increasing environmental concerns, especially in a power frugal country like India, operating data centres with green and renewable energy is necessary.
According to Rachit Mohan, who is the Head, Data Center Advisory – India and Co-Head, Office Leasing Advisory – Mumbai at JLL, since the global cloud players are increasing their commitment to the world second-largest mobile internet user market–India, they are also looking at DC operators that can provide green energy.
Some data centre players are setting up captive renewable energy power plants while others have entered into third party renewable power purchase agreements. Some players are looking at sustainability from a holistic perspective right from DC design, sustainable building material, construction, energy efficiency etc.
“The new data centre plants are designed to be more power-efficient with the target power usage effectiveness lower than 1.5. Players are also upgrading their IT infrastructure energy-efficient servers along with Artificial Intelligence-driven smart systems to optimize energy consumption,” added Mohan.
Take for example one of the youngest data centre players in India Yotta’s first data centre building in Navi Mumbai has a power capacity of 50MW. The company claims it has the lowest PUE of 1.4; the facility is power efficient and houses captive power distribution infrastructure. In addition, the company is commissioning its solar power plant and natural gas-based power generation plant adjacent to the data centre for green energy.
STT GDC India’s facilities on the other hand derive 34 percent of its power from renewable sources and recently added to the 99MUs/annum (99 Million kWh) of renewable energy under a captive structure, for its Maharashtra facilities. Besides this, the company aims to cross 50% in the next 4 years based on present regulatory regimes.
“To put in perspective, the amount of green energy sourced by STT GDC India in the last one year could light up to 150,000 urban households,” said, Sreejith G, Vice President – Data Centre Operations, STT GDC India.
Amongst Equinix’s operations in Asia-Pacific, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore have achieved a 100 per cent renewable energy goal in 2020, with the region as a whole achieving 75% renewable energy.
“Equinix also committed to becoming climate neutral by setting science-based targets for emissions reduction across not just our global operations, but also throughout its supply chains by 2030,” said Jeremy Deutsch, President – Asia Pacific at Equinix.
Reducing carbon footprint is Capex intensive
Manish Israni, EVP & CIO, Yotta Infrastructure believes that energy demand remains flat due to the significant improvement in efficiency and the shift towards hyperscale data centres and the cloud. “Increasing migration from captive to hyperscale data centres among enterprises has helped shrink energy demand as Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) is lower in large data centres.”
With the growing pressure on data centres to look for greener operating solutions, the major challenge for the data centre operators is to adhere to scalable and newer methods of power and cooling efficiencies.
“Today, a data centre operator is accountable by regulators, watchdogs, and businesses and is liable to provide significant power savings and carbon reduction statistics. However, to achieve all this is CAPEX intensive and returns are only visible in the long run in this competitive market,” Israni maintained.
He also believes that the local and state governments can play a vital role by easing a lot of hurdles on the power front.
Datacenter companies are also leveraging artificial intelligence-based systems to build green data centres. As cooling systems consume about 25 percent of the total energy in data centres, new AI-driven smart systems are configured to optimise the power usage and improve the air flow in the data centres.
“AI not only optimises power consumption but also reduces costs and improves the overall efficiency of the data centre. Another approach merges AI and high-performance computing (HPC) to trade-off time and energy consumption. New-age technologies such as federated learning are also being implemented in the model updates to adjust the power profile deployed at the edge,” Israni averred.