How to stop data centres from gobbling up world electricity coolheat

Data Center face electricity and air pollution challenges.

In a conventional data centre, standard air conditioning can soak up 40% of the energy bill. 

Air condition is one of, if not, the biggest contributors to depleting the ozone layer causing global heating.

The use of cooling towers, which evaporate water to drive the cooling of air, cause an environmental problem: US data centres are estimated to have used about 100 billion litres of water in 2014. 

Getting rid of compression chillers and cooling towers helps to save both energy and water.

Already, data centres use an estimated 200 terawatt hours (TWh) each year. That is more than the national energy consumption of some countries, but half of the electricity used for transport worldwide, and just 1% of global electricity demand. 

Data centres contribute around 0.3% to overall carbon emissions, whereas the information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem as a whole — under a sweeping definition that encompasses personal digital devices, mobile-phone networks and televisions — accounts for more than 2% of global emissions. 

That puts ICT’s carbon footprint on a par with the aviation industry’s emissions from fuel. 

What could happen in the future is hard to forecast. But one of the most worrying models predicts that electricity use by ICT could exceed 20% of the global total by the time a child born today reaches her teens, with data centres using more than one-third of that.