Brazil, Russia, India, China Show Largest Increase in Data Center Power 2012-2013

In fact, there is only one ‘established’ market within the top ten for energy requirements growth – the Nordics group of countries. The remaining nine are the BRIC group plus five of the ‘E7’ (emerging 7) countries- Turkey, Gulf States, the ASEAN group of markets, Colombia and South Africa.

The new report ‘Powering the Data Center Report’ gives a worldwide view of power requirements, drivers, trends and issues within the data center market.

Based on results from the 2012/2013 census with additional new qualitative interviews and desk research, the report has a foreword by Professor Ian Bitterlin, and  offers the reader insight into historical growth rates, regional variations, local idiosyncrasies. Also included are the technologies and strategies being implemented to mitigate the forecast of exponential growth in demand for data center services.

Over the past 12 months, much attention has been directed at ‘green’ locations and whilst our research confirms that the Nordics have witnessed as much as a 22 per cent growth in white space over the preceding year, the Powering the Data Center Report finds that there is little evidence to suggest that low carbon data center locations are becoming the norm.

According to Professor Bitterlin: “You would imagine, with the rising cost and importance of power, that there would be an exodus of data centre facilities to low-cost or low-carbon (not linked to the price of fossil fuel) regions, but whilst there are some moves, generally data-centre location seems to be affected by forces other than power availability or cost”.

With the amount of negative publicity surrounding current and future power requirements for the data center industry many have asked the question whether the industry is doing enough to reduce power consumption. The answer according to both Professor Bitterlin and the report’s author, DCD intelligence lead analyst Nick Parfait, is a definite yes – though with the proviso that the industry must continue to find ways of doing even more.

As Parfitt explained, “Currently the industry can show to the outside world a variety of energy saving initiatives with new and forthcoming International and regional standards, best practices, maturity models and codes of conduct on energy efficiency.

“However, we in the data-centre industry need to educate others, – especially governments and legislators – what we do, how central our role is in the digital economy and how our facilities are becoming ever more vital and also ever more energy efficient. For example, interacting digitally rather than physically has a very significant impact on the carbon footprint of data center users.”

According to projections made based on 2012 census data, the global data center industry has a total power consumption of approximately 332 TWh (terawatt hours) of which 19 per cent is accounted for by colocation or other outsourced facilities.

This 332 TWh consumption represents 1.8 per cent of global electricity usage based on IAE (the international energy agency) World Energy Outlook figures. However, as Parfitt explained, “Governments and legislators need to understand that modern data centers use this energy orders of magnitude more efficiently than their old server-room predecessors.  So companies should be rewarded, not discouraged from transferring to these facilities.”

This total demand figure is up 14 per cent over the 2011 Census data. Whilst this is lower than the previously projected increase of 19 per cent, it is still very significantly higher than overall global energy demand for which the historic 10-year rate of increase is just 2.5 per cent. (Source BP – quoting IAE 2012 figures.)