The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that electricity usage of data centers will double by 2011.
The government has plenty of reasons to care about this, but one of the most obvious is financial. If growth continues at current levels, the federal government alone will be shelling out $740 million for data center electrical bills in 2011.
The report was authored by researchers at the government's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (the same authors previously calculated that US servers currently use the same level of electricity as all color TVs in the country combined). The final results, out this week, indicate that the US used 61 kilowatt-hours of power for data centers and servers in 2006. That's 1.5 percent of all US electricity use, and it cost the companies that paid those bills more than $4.5 billion.
With numbers like these, it's not hard to see why companies are going green. In the technology sector, especially, companies have gotten the message that servers can cost more money to power than to purchase. That, combined with a widespread worries about global warming, has lead IT organizations like the Green Grid and the Climate Savers Computing Initiative to work on ways to lower power consumption in the data center.
While servers certainly require plenty of power, the data center infrastructure uses the same amount of electricity as the servers. Cooling and power conversion systems soak up half the total power of a data center, and are one of the best places to start when it comes to making the data center more efficient.
The EPA makes a host of recommendations for cutting down infrastructure energy use and claims that if all of them are put into place, data centers can see up to an 80 percent improvement in energy efficiency. Suggested changes include improving transformers and uninterruptible power supplies, installing higher-efficiency chillers, fans, and pumps, and installing direct liquid cooling systems. On the server side, the report recommends enabling power management on all servers, aggressively consolidating servers and storage, and eliminating unused servers.