Adoption of green computing tech can reduce energy consumption


Umesh Kale, Business Unit Manager at Munters India Humidity Control, shares insights on the evolving data centre landscape in India, the role of sustainability, innovative cooling solutions, and energy-efficient practices for addressing environmental concerns while reducing the carbon footprint.

What is your perspective on innovative approaches and expansion of data centres in the coming years?
The data centre industry in India is poised for significant growth in the coming years. India is making remarkable progress in various aspects. The country is marching towards “Amritkal” in all true sense, driven by socio-economic factors and technological advancements, bringing us closer to a prosperous era. Various factors contribute to this optimistic outlook, including the rapid expansion of the digital economy and a rising demand for cloud computing and data-intensive services. The government’s commitment to establishing India as a global data centre hub, the youthful median age of 28.2 years in the Indian population, and the role of Gen Z – all of which are shaping the country’s need for data processing.

In response to the increasing demand for data centre services in India, operators are adopting innovative approaches. They promote sustainability by harnessing renewable energy sources to power their data centres. Additionally, operators are ensuring energy efficiency by implementing cutting-edge cooling systems like Munters SyCool Split Systems. Operators are adopting modular data centre designs that offer scalability and investing in edge computing technologies to bring cloud services closer to end-users. These innovative approaches will make India a more sustainable and cost-effective destination for data centres. This, in turn, will help fuel the growth of the digital economy in India and make the country a leading player in the global data centre market.

As the demand for data storage and processing experiences growth, how are data centres adapting to address growing needs without compromising efficiency?
Data centre planners are increasingly adopting modular and scalable designs to facilitate the flexible addition or removal of capacity as required. This approach contributes to enhanced data centre efficiency by reducing the amount of unused space. Another emerging and dependable method is the utilisation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These technologies can enhance data centre efficiency by optimising cooling systems, demand prediction, and outage prevention. Additionally, virtualisation permits multiple operating systems and applications to operate on the same physical hardware, reducing the need for excessive hardware and enabling data centres to adjust capacity as necessary easily. Furthermore, cloud computing is a scalable and cost-effective alternative for data storage and processing compared to traditional data centres.

How does the growing capacity of data centres influence the trend of data localisation, particularly in the context of improving data protection?
The decision regarding data localisation depends on several factors. It may be the regulatory framework in place, the complexity of an organisation’s data setup, and the trade-off between data protection and cost considerations. Expanding data centre capacity could lower the costs of local data storage. This encourages greater adoption of data localisation. However, organisations should exercise caution and thoroughly assess their requirements and the regulatory environment. It is necessary before committing to data localisation strategies, especially in the context of data security.

What new cooling options are being utilised to dissipate the heat generated by data centres?
Data centres may require different cooling solutions based on their type, location, size, and power density to optimise their operational performance. The heat generated by data centre equipment demands efficient temperature control within specific ranges. Hence, several available alternatives are mentioned as follows.

In cases where data centres face environmental pollution and fluctuating humidity or have space constraints, Split system cooling is a suitable solution. These systems typically consist of separate cooling and heat rejection components, offering installation flexibility, especially for multi-story facilities. Split systems employ thermosyphon technology, utilising refrigerant evaporation and condensation to transfer heat from the data centre.

Waterless cooling systems like Indirect dry cooling are environmentally friendly. They keep data centres cool while protecting them from external contaminants. This option is well-suited for data centres in cooler climates or areas with limited water resources. Indirect dry cooling systems use sensible plate or heat pipe heat exchangers to create an airtight barrier between the recirculating indoor air and the external air. This prevents outdoor pollutants and humidity from entering while efficiently dissipating heat into the external air.

When precise temperature and humidity control is necessary for a data centre, Indirect evaporative cooling (IEC) is a practical choice. IEC leverages lower ambient wet bulb temperatures during peak cooling periods, reducing initial and ongoing operational costs. It utilises outdoor air to remove heat. An air-to-air heat exchanger transfers data centre heat to a separate outdoor airstream (scavenger air). This design involves outdoor scavenger air passing over wetted elliptical tubes via a recirculation water pump. With scavenger air flowing over the wet exterior tube surfaces, evaporative heat transfer efficiently cools the data centre hot aisle air flowing through the inside of the tubes. During cold winter conditions, water is drained from the system, and the heat exchanger operates dry.

Direct evaporative cooling (DEC) is the most energy-efficient method for cooling data centres. It operates by directly cooling outside air through evaporation, subsequently utilising this cooled air to regulate the internal climate. The principle behind evaporative cooling and humidification is refreshingly straightforward, as with many innovations. It hinges on the fact that water requires substantial heat absorption for evaporation, making it possible to cool dry air by changing liquid water into water vapour. In data centre evaporative cooling/humidification systems, the process involves directing warm outside air through a cooling medium and increasing air velocity with industrial fans. The cooling medium becomes saturated with water. And as the air passes through, the water evaporates, lowering the temperature of the air entering the data centre and thereby cooling the building’s interior.

How significant is the market for liquid cooling solutions in data centres?
In general, the market for liquid cooling solutions in data centres holds substantial importance and is anticipated to expand further. This growth is driven by data centres’ quest for more effective and eco-friendly approaches to handle the heat generated by increasingly powerful computing equipment. However, certain challenges are associated with this, including higher initial expenses, maintenance demands, and potential risks linked to water-based cooling systems. Data centre operators need to conduct a thorough assessment of the pros and cons of liquid cooling solutions in line with specific needs and infrastructure.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

What steps are being taken to improve data centre performance through energy-efficient practices?
There is a growing focus on improving data centre performance through energy-efficient practices. Here are some actions that can be implemented to improve data centre performance through energy efficiency. One approach to decreasing energy consumption is to consolidate workloads onto a smaller number of servers. Virtualisation can enhance resource utilisation and lower energy usage. The adoption of green computing technologies, such as energy-efficient storage devices and power supplies, can effectively reduce energy consumption.

Further approaches involve the implementation of energy management policies that can ensure that the data centre only consumes the necessary power, helping to optimise energy usage. Lastly, monitoring energy consumption helps identify areas where energy savings can be made.

Please discuss sustainable practices being adopted by data centres to address environmental concerns and diminish their carbon footprint.
Data centres are significant energy consumers, accounting for an estimated 1.5 to 2 percent of global electricity usage. Consequently, there is a growing emphasis on improving data centre performance through energy-efficient practices. Some measures to achieve this include obtaining green certifications like LEED or ISO 14001 to demonstrate commitment to sustainability. Collaboration with local communities, utility providers, and government agencies can lead to innovative, sustainable solutions, such as sharing excess heat and participating in renewable energy projects.

Adopting remote management and edge computing technologies can reduce the need for large centralised data centres, enabling a more distributed and energy-efficient infrastructure. Further, data centres can invest in carbon offset programs to balance emissions by supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.


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