Datacenters: The New Carbon Frontier

by Visitor Siggy62 on ‎09-23-2011 09:59 AM - last edited on ‎09-23-2011 04:33 PM by Contributor vuppur

Lou Signorelli of Caterpillar

We've all debated the carbon data while we watch our energy costs sky rocket. Now it seems legislators around the world are trying to use carbon and its perceived impact (depending on your position on the validity of the data) on the environment to get elected or hold their office.

A recent article in the Financial Times (August 29, 2011) by Maja Palmer discusses the impact of UK legislation on the datacenter space. An interesting read, but to summarize: legislation on carbon emissions could be driving datacenters out of the UK or at very least discouraging the growth or consolidation of smaller centers into larger more efficient datacenters.

There are a number of organizations that offer certifications based on building efficiency. These seem to be growing in number and in their ability to influence designs.

While everyone would probably agree that being more efficient and ecologically friendly is a good thing; the question that I'd like to address is "where is there a limit?"

Where is the line between making datacenters more efficient and restricting growth in a vibrant industry?

Also, what is the impact on other industries? Are we placing so much regulation on today's industries that we are restricting their growth?

In the end, consumers will pay for any regulation. As corporate costs are driven up to comply with the increased regulation, it seems only logical that their "products" will cost more. What impact will this have on business growth? Do we see a migration of business to locations without such regulations?

Share your thoughts on this topic by posting below.

by New member Ranga1960
on ‎10-01-2011 01:10 AM
I concur with the author. Regulations should take a more holistic view. There are very many legacy and small size dc facilities that need to be consolidated into more efficient large size DCs, there by exploting the opportunities od scale. Regulations should be encouraging this trend. There are whole lot of areas that need the attention of regulators including town planning guidelines that will recognize DCs as a special category of buildings. Instead merely using carbon foot print as the sole criteria may be counter productive.
by New member Bitterlin
on ‎10-27-2011 08:08 AM

What is the cost impact of the proposed carbon tax in the UK?  I ran across a few people yesterday arguing about the CRC (our Carbon Reduction Committment) and the impact that the proposed carbon tax was going to have on data-centres and it transpired that no-one appeared to have done the sums on what the cost penalty would actually be.  Its not hard to work out:  The tax is proposed at GB£12/tonne of CO2 (admittedly this is just the starting point and I suspect that the Treasury are eyeing this up closely) and the UK grid fuel mix comes in at around 0.55kg of CO2 per kWh.  Some people pay as little as 6p/kWh at off-peak times so for them, at that rate, the carbon tax is an 11% increase in fuel cost.  For the average user, at 10p/kWh, the increase is 6.6% whilst for the lucky (!) few who pay 13p/kWh at peak times it represents just a 5% penalty.  Given that 20% savings are probably possible in most facilities by some fairly modest capital investment in air management its not too bad.  But our power costs are not low in the first place and the carbon tax could be the icing on the cake that prevents inward investment with lost revenues and jobs.  However, the underlying problem is that data growth is exponential and data-centres will have no option but to add the overall energy costs to their service charges - so we will all pay extra for our 'internet everywhere always' and 'internet of things' society.  At what point we moderate our data-content demands because of cost is open to question...

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