The evolution of the colocation data center to meet sustainability and energy efficiency demands

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There was a time when ideas like efficiency, sustainability and resiliency were thought to be mutually exclusive terms. This was a problem for those involved in data center operations from colocation service providers to enterprise facilities, where the primary objective was to ensure service availability. Inevitably that demanded complex 2N electrical designs that were energy depleting. Colocations have evolved tremendously and are looking at a future ripe with even more environmentally friendly options.

Reap the benefits of sustainability

Today the majority of people and big businesses involved both in IT and colocation data centers have come to realize that sustainable energy supplies bring a lot of benefits. Besides guarding the health of the environment, sustainable practices can reduce operating costs by decreasing energy usage.

One approach to capture energy efficiencies is to operate in cooler climates and more remote locations. This means companies that operate responsibly as global citizens don’t have to compete for space and power in urban spaces where the demand for housing puts real estate at a premium. In fact, a cool temperate climate, coupled with a plentiful supply of renewable energy sources, has made the Nordic countries a destination of choice for customers looking to colocate IT loads in Europe.

A recently published report commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers indicates sharp growth for the Nordic data center market by 2025, with expected annual construction investments in the order of $2-4.5bn (this equates to an installed annual capacity of 280-580 MW per year). It’s a massive investment as the Nordics position as Europe’s edge location for non-critical applications.

The Green Mountain story: Fjord Meets colocation data center

Speaking at a recent Datacloud Europe event, Svein Atle Hagaseth, CSO at Norway’s Green Mountain AS, a leading supplier of colocation data center services, confirmed that customers are increasingly talking about changing climate requirements, energy efficiency and sustainability. “With near 100 percent renewable energy, being in Norway is a good place to be when you have a sustainability agenda,” he said.

Hagaseth said, “The nature of Norway is fantastic; the power is green, hydro-based. You can leverage the cold wet Norwegian climate to create very energy efficient solutions inside the data center… we’re actually using the fjord outside one of our data centers to provide cooling. It takes around 3kW of power to generate the equivalent of about 1000kW of cooling.”

Data center sustainability isn’t just for cool climates

Sustainability is not only for data centers located in cool areas. Other climates have good access to wind and solar energy for example. Hagaseth emphasized that innovation is key. “You need to use technology to take advantage of beneficial climatic conditions – you need technology and nature to create sustainable solutions. It’s important to not simply do things as they have always been done,” he said. It is important to design a strategy, deliver energy efficiency, and sustain results for your enterprise.

Technology choices need to be continuously reviewed. The climate is changing and it’s imperative to ensure that data center tech choices remain relevant today, tomorrow, and for at least 5 or 10 years into the future to reflect customers’ lifecycle requirements.

Colocation market demanding energy efficiency

Environmentally friendly technologies for colocation providers aren’t just a nice to have, rather colocation customers are starting to expect it. They are looking for providers that are embracing sustainable practices in line with their own company’s strategy and values.

Investors are looking at colocation provider environmental scorecards too. “Sustainability is becoming a highly relevant metric for the data center industry and it is essential that the growth in the data center space is accompanied by energy efficiency innovation and new models where investors are engaged in expanding the supply of renewable energy,“ Steen Hommel, Director Invest in Denmark recently told industry publication, Data Economy. Also, with environmental regulations continuously evolving, it makes good sense to actively seek out sustainable approaches and technology today to prepare for the future.

Learn more about Green Mountain’s sustainability story

To discover more about Green Mountain’s use of natural and renewable resources to power and cool its data centers, watch Hagaseth in this Datacloud Europe interview.

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