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Exploring Green Data Centers: Success Stories and Innovations

Updated: Jun 21


An ideal green data center as envisioned by NVIDIA

Data centers are integral to modern enterprises yet incur substantial energy costs. The advent of AI is intensifying the already skyrocketing demand for computational capacity, significantly boosting the power requirements for the world's data centers.


Compounding this issue, energy expenses are on the rise while the demand for data centers continues to escalate, with the market size expected to expand by 25% from 2023 to 2030.


In Platocom's ongoing exploration of green data centers, we've highlighted the critical role of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in fostering sustainability within the industry. As the demand for digital services continues to surge, data centers are expanding rapidly, bringing heightened concerns over their energy consumption and environmental impact.

"Energy efficiency is only one step on the path to sustainability. As it stands today, data center energy efficiency sits under the umbrella of sustainable computing, the design, manufacture, use, and disposal of computers, chips, and other technologies to achieve a net-zero impact on the environment." ~ NVIDIA

Technological Innovation

Data centers are at the forefront of adopting cutting-edge technologies to reduce energy consumption. Advanced cooling systems like liquid immersion and indirect evaporative cooling are replacing traditional air conditioning, significantly enhancing efficiency and lowering electricity demands. Simultaneously, optimizing server efficiency through hardware advancements and software optimizations minimizes overall energy usage within data centers.


Renewable Energy Integration

A pivotal strategy for reducing carbon footprints involves integrating renewable energy sources. Many data center operators are investing heavily in solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power to supplement or replace conventional grid energy. This transition not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also enhances energy reliability and resilience.


Regulatory Support and Standards

Governments worldwide, both local and national, play a crucial role in promoting energy efficiency through regulatory frameworks and standards. These include incentives like tax credits for renewable energy investments, stringent building codes that mandate energy-efficient construction practices, and carbon pricing mechanisms. Such policies incentivize data center operators to prioritize sustainable practices and technologies.


Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)

Collaborative efforts among government entities, utility providers, and private sector stakeholders are instrumental in driving sustainable practices within the data center industry. PPPs facilitate infrastructure development, support research and development of green technologies, and create incentives for adopting energy-efficient solutions.


Data Center Operator Commitments

Leading data center operators are making significant strides toward sustainability by setting ambitious goals. These include commitments to achieving carbon neutrality, increasing renewable energy procurement, and optimizing energy efficiency across their facilities. Such commitments not only enhance environmental stewardship but also set new benchmarks for efficiency and responsibility in the industry.


Case Studies: Data Centers Embracing Green Technologies

By examining these pioneers, we can glean valuable insights into how the industry is setting new standards in efficiency and environmental responsibility.


Google Cloud



Google Cloud has been a pioneer in sustainability within the tech industry:


  • Carbon Neutrality: Achieved carbon neutrality as early as 2007, setting a precedent for other major companies.

  • 2030 Goals: Aims to eliminate its carbon legacy and operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy globally by 2030, showcasing a long-term commitment to sustainability.

  • Hamina, Finland Data Center: Utilizes a unique seawater cooling system, leveraging the cold waters of the Gulf of Finland. This innovative approach minimizes energy consumption for cooling, reducing both operational costs and environmental impact. The facility exemplifies Google's strategy of integrating local natural resources to enhance energy efficiency.


Digital Realty

Digital Realty's commitment to green data centers and colocation services improves energy efficiency and reduces costs for their customers.


  • 100% Renewable Energy: Achieved 100% renewable energy coverage across its US and European portfolios, demonstrating a robust commitment to environmental stewardship.

  • Investments in Renewable Energy: The company has invested heavily in solar and wind energy projects, enhancing its renewable energy procurement capabilities.

  • Green Bonds: Issuance of green bonds to fund sustainable initiatives further underscores its dedication to sustainable development and financial innovation within the data center industry.


Schneider Electric




Schneider Electric SE is a French multinational company that specializes in digital automation and energy management. Schneider Electric has been recognized globally for its sustainable practices and innovations benefitting data centers:


  • Most Sustainable Company: Awarded as the most sustainable company in the world in 2021, highlighting its leadership in sustainability across various sectors.

  • EcoStruxure Smart Grid: Deployed its EcoStruxure Smart Grid technology to enhance energy efficiency and reliability in data centers and beyond.

  • Global Impact: Aims to provide green electricity to 50 million people by 2025, showcasing ambitious goals that align with its commitment to sustainability and renewable energy deployment.



Scala Data Centers (Latin America)



Scala Data Centers is the leading Latin American platform of sustainable data centers in the hyperscale market. Headquartered in Brazil and founded by DigitalBridge, it was developed to meet and exceed the growing demand for digital access in Latin America.


Scala Data Centers is leading the way in sustainable data center operations in Latin America:


  • First 100%-Certified Renewable Energy Data Centers: Operates the first certified 100% renewable energy data centers in the region, setting high standards for environmental responsibility.

  • Low Operational Energy Usage: Emphasizes low operational energy consumption, reflecting a holistic approach to sustainability in data center operations.

  • iMasons Climate Accord: Recognized for its commitment to sustainability through membership in initiatives like the iMasons Climate Accord and achieving CarbonNeutral certification.


Apple


Apple Solar Farm for Maiden Data Center, North Carolina

Apple has been a frontrunner in integrating renewable energy into its data center operations:


  • 100% Renewable Energy Since 2014: All Apple data centers have been powered entirely by renewable energy sources since 2014, significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

  • Innovative Cooling Technologies: Continues to innovate in cooling technologies to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability within its data centers.

  • Environmental Progress: Reports substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through its renewable energy projects and ongoing commitment to sustainability across global operations.


Switch’s SUPERNAP Data Center

Switch's innovative approach to data center cooling stands out in challenging environmental conditions:


  • Location-Specific Cooling Solutions: Located in Las Vegas, the SUPERNAP data center employs a proprietary cooling system designed for efficient operation in desert climates.

  • Energy Efficiency: Features like hot and cold aisle containment, thermal energy storage, and optimized water distribution systems maximize cooling efficiency and minimize energy waste.

  • Operational Excellence: Demonstrates how customized cooling solutions tailored to specific environmental conditions can lead to significant energy savings and operational efficiency gains.


Industry update: Dell Technologies, FedEx and Switch Team Up to Deliver Exascale Multi-Cloud Capabilities to the Edge. Read more here.


Olkaria Ecocloud Data Center, Kenya


Olkaria Ecoloud Data Center in Kenya is powered by renewable energy from both geothermal activity and solar farms, Olkaria Ecocloud guarantees a reliable power supply and redundancy right across the facility’s operations.

  • Location and Context: Situated within KenGen’s Green Energy Park in Kenya, the Olkaria Ecocloud Data Center is the first fully green data center in Africa.

  • Power Source: It is powered entirely by geothermal energy, utilizing the abundant and sustainable geothermal resources available in the region.

  • Sustainability Impact: By harnessing geothermal energy, the data center not only supports sustainable industrialization in Kenya but also provides a clean and reliable energy source for its operations.

  • Environmental Contribution: The adoption of geothermal energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to Kenya's renewable energy goals.

  • Innovation in Sustainability: The Olkaria Ecocloud Data Center sets a precedent for sustainable data center operations in Africa, emphasizing environmental responsibility and resource efficiency.


The above examples illustrate how leading data centers implement innovative technologies and sustainable practices to reduce energy consumption, enhance operational efficiency, and contribute to global environmental goals. Each initiative reflects a commitment to sustainability, setting benchmarks for the industry and inspiring others to adopt similar strategies for a greener future.


On a Final Note

These case studies illustrate that achieving green data centers involves a combination of innovative technologies, strategic resource use, and a commitment to renewable energy. Each example offers valuable lessons on overcoming challenges and implementing effective solutions.


About Platocom

Platocom is a digital infrastructure company specializing in data center migration, audits, compliance, deployment, and decommissioning, as well as colocation and cloud hosting services. Our commitment to sustainability and innovation drives us to support the development of green data centers worldwide.

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