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The World Is Slowly Entering the Age of Green Data Centers

January 23, 2023


The exponential growth of electricity consumption, with its ever-rising prices, and the challenges posed by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict are just two of the factors accelerating the transition to green data centers. Cloud computing, streaming, and AI-powered apps are driving demand for more and larger data centers, and there is no sign of this slowing down. In order to become more energy efficient, data centers around the world are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, offset their carbon footprint, and reduce water usage.

In this article, we take a look at some affordable solutions for energy-efficient data centers. 

Understanding How Data Centers Work

A data center is a facility where an organization or service provider centralizes its computing resources. Today, most of the data we handle on mobile phones, tablets, and computers ends up being hosted on servers located in these data centers. In fact, many people refer to data centers as cloud or hosting. 

Data centers are exclusive areas where companies store and operate their IT infrastructure. These areas can host servers and storage systems to run applications that process and store enterprise data. Some companies may have a few racks, while others may have large private halls that house numerous racks. Data centers provide a ready-made technical space where large electrical sockets are installed to connect the racks. Everything must be carefully controlled and secured. For example, climate control is essential to maintain proper temperature and humidity parameters that ensure the correct functioning and operational integrity of the hosted systems. For this reason, data centers have redundant power supply systems, diesel backup generators, redundant and highly efficient cooling systems, fire detection and suppression, water leak detectors, and security controls.

A physical data center can host virtual data centers, known as Private Clouds. This technology is more cost-effective thanks to virtualization. Each virtual data center is completely independent and, as a result, it benefits from maximum guarantees in terms of security, availability, and flexibility.

Data Centers Are Becoming More Energy-Efficient

The accelerating digital transformation inevitably leads to higher utilization of data centers, which has a direct impact on energy consumption. According to the International Energy Agency, the global data center electricity use was 220-320 TWh in 2021, or about 0.9-1.3% of the world’s final electricity demand. This doesn’t include energy used for cryptocurrency mining, which was 100-140 TWh in 2021. Globally, data transmission networks consumed 260-340 TWh in 2021, or 1.1-1.4% of the global electricity consumption, according to an IEA report.

The exponential growth of electricity consumption and its price is forcing companies to increase their efforts to achieve high levels of energy efficiency and sustainability in the coming years. This trend is starting to emerge on a global scale, as more and more data centers are interested in solutions to reduce their energy consumption and energy footprint through renewable energy and electricity efficiency.

There are many ways to reduce power consumption. For example, equipping data centers with properly sized and efficient cooling systems can make a significant contribution to trimming the electricity bill, as cooling accounts for between 25% and 35% of a data center’s electricity consumption. There are now many energy-efficient HVAC solutions available, using modern technologies such as free cooling, liquid cooling, or phase change materials. One example is adiabatic cooling technologies, which can help a data center to reduce operating costs by up to 25% (compared to a conventional compressor cooling system) and water consumption by 80%.

Another affordable solution is to replace classic uninterruptible power supply VRLA equipment with UPSs equipped with Li-ion batteries, which provide up to three times longer life, lower cooling requirements, and up to 40% lower total cost of ownership compared to VRLA technology.

More and more hyper-scale data centers are installing grid-ready UPS machines featuring Li-ion batteries, which can be used in advanced scenarios to balance national power systems during periods of high volatility.

Using Renewable Energy

Pressed by the need to reduce electricity consumption, more and more data centers are opting to use renewable energy, generated by photovoltaic and wind power plants.

A new trend that is gaining ground among data centers is trigeneration, i.e., combined heat, power and cooling (CHP). Trigeneration (and co-generation) plants are highly energy efficient and can run on both gas and green hydrogen, which is produced by water electrolysis using electricity from renewable sources, with no greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they can generate heat and domestic hot water that can be distributed to homes, office buildings, and factories located near data centers.

An example of this is Microsoft, which, by using Direct Liquid Cooling technology in its two data centers in Finland, can heat around 100,000 homes in the country. In addition, by using energy from renewable sources, Microsoft has reduced CO2 emissions by around 400,000 tonnes.


As demand for digital services is growing rapidly, data centers and data transmission networks are consuming more and more power, thus increasing their carbon footprints. The race to green carbon-neutral and energy-efficient data centers are heating up, as companies look to minimize their environmental impact while maintaining high levels of performance for services offered to customers.