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  • How data centers can lower energy costs

Data Center Technicians working on a computer away from the Data Center console.
ASK THE EXPERT ROB MCKERNAN, senior vice president, Global IT Channel, answers questions about data centers and the steps needed to lower energy costs.

Enterprises are turning to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand response

Q. What’s the biggest challenge for data centers?
A. Data centers consume about 2% of electricity in the U.S. And due to rising energy costs, enterprises are rethinking how they power their data centers. Some of the world’s largest data centers use alternative energy sources to reduce costs and lessen the strain on power grids. For example, companies like Apple use solar fields. But most enterprises don’t have the resources to build on-site renewable energy infrastructure. Thankfully, the technology needed to cut energy emissions by 30% to 50% is not beyond their reach.

Q. How can enterprises leverage renewable energy?
A. Renewable energy sources can lower costs, but prices fluctuate often. Drought and low water levels can drive hydropower prices up one week. The next week, flash floods may send rates falling at lightning speed. Such variances make predicting costs difficult. A calculated approach to energy management can help enterprises source the most effective type of energy at any given time, especially if they partner with a third-party sustainability service provider.

Q. How else can energy savings be achieved?
A. Energy efficiency is critical. And, data center design helps to achieve energy efficiency and keep power demand in check. For instance, an air containment system can deliver savings of 25%, and economizers can help slash energy demand through “free cooling.” It’s estimated that energy demand can be lowered by as much as 30% with the right technology.

Another opportunity stems from demand response, which has transformed the energy marketplace. Enterprises can determine when to best consume electricity and work closely with energy suppliers to sell back unused energy at peak times, creating new revenue streams. While demand response requires involvement, it’s worth it because carbon emissions can be reduced by 50% over 20 years.