Data centres now have the scope to reduce their carbon footprint
Energy from renewable sources has outstripped electricity generated from fossil fuels for the first time in the UK.
The National Grid revealed that 50.7 percent of the UK’s energy was generated from solar, wind, hydro and wood pellet burning sources. If nuclear was added to the mix, 72.1 percent of the electricity in the UK is currently generated from low carbon emission sources.
“For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined,” the National Grid said on Twitter.
This is positive news for the technology industry. As the need for data storage and compute power increased on a yearly basis, and more companies embrace cloud services, there is a growing need for data centres to provide the infrastructure to support this demand.
Regular Silicon readers will note that increasing numbers of data centres are being opened in the UK. However, they are power hungry structures given they can can house tens of thousands of server racks.
The power consumption is high enough to warrant the attention of environmental and climate change groups such as Greenpeace, who often lambaste companies that create data centres that rely too heavily on power from fossil fuels.
But with more than half of the electricity in the UK now generated from renewables and low carbon sources, companies like Google and Microsoft have the opportunity to build data centres that are not saddled with consuming vast amounts of energy produced from fossil fuels. This has the knock on effect of reducing the carbon footprint of new and existing data centres in the UK.
Many modern data centres are designed to be as energy efficient as possible, with techniques like fresh air cooling applied instead of the more energy-hungry and less carbon-friendly refrigeration techniques. Combined with energy from renewable sources, there is a good amount of scope for the UK’s next wave of data centres to be carbon neutral and powered by nothing but green energy sources.
With artificial intelligence (AI) also being employed to help make data centres run more efficiently, we could see data centres become more environmentally-friendly than ever before.