The UK's Problem with Power

Computer Weekly / DatacenterDynamics Focus : February 2014  

UK power capacity will experience several years of squeeze arising from lack of generation capacity and transmission grid underinvestment. Data centre operators are looking at a variety of options from drastic efficiency improvements to generating their own power. Interviewees from DRT, Eaton, Colt, Cummins Power Generation and others discuss the issues.  

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST  Data centre operators are increasingly focused on efficient use of energy. The ability to save power through improved temperature visibility will become increasingly valuable.   

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Energy now biggest infrastructure concern for UK Business

EnergyLive News / Confederation of British Industry : 17 September 2013  

 A CBI poll of 500 business leaders conducted by KPMG highlights that 77% (10% higher than last year) are concerned that energy infrastructure will not be adequate. John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said “The huge number of businesses concerned about energy supply and costs is alarming. The Government must get the Energy Bill onto the statute books and bring forward secondary legislation to give potential investors the certainty to deliver the energy infrastructure we need to keep our lights on in the future.

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST  UK government focus on energy conservation, including fiscal and legislative incentives, will increase. Putting more pressure on data centres to operate more efficiently.  

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Green Data Centres can take the heat - opportunities to reduce cooling spend

Computing Analysis : 2 September 2013  

Highlights the new problem of data centre power consumption; improvement in equipment heat tolerance; new ASHRAE guidelines, and the potential for saving carbon and cost through increasing operating temperatures. "Most manufacturers are making equipment that can work at up to 32ºC degrees, but most data centres are still cooled to about 20ºC or 22ºC,” says Campbell-Ferguson, Associate Director, Arup.  

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST  The worldwide potential for energy savings through raising temperature set points in server halls looks even higher than previously estimated. High definition temperature monitoring is likely to become an integral element in acheiving these gains. 

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The Cloud Begins with Coal - Electricity consumption by the IT industry

Digital Power Group : 23 August 2013  

Fascinating, thoroughly referenced analysis by Digital Power Group CEO  Mark Mills highlighting that global IT infrastructure now accounts for 10% of global electricity consumption. Section 6 covers data centre demand, estimated to consume 250-250 terawatt hours globally. Microsoft Foundation Services data projects US consumption increasing from around 100 terawatt hours pa today to 400 tW by 2023, and global usage increasing even faster from around 150tW today to 1,400 tW by 2023. Individual rack consumption has risen by 40% in the last 5 years to 5kW per rack, with high performance racks already at 26kW and forecast to double. Mark highlights the emergence of the fastest growing power segment - traffic within data centres, driven by  rising use of IT services, remote storage, increasing use of real time processing including mapping, voice recognition, industrial and medical diagnostics, and big data analytics. He also discusses the new phenomena of peak demand where power usage surges of 2 or 3x are forecast during intensive processing periods, creating a requirement for "graceful handover" between centres to manage demand and optimise electricity costs. The average US data centre is geriatric - over 12 years old. Unlike other industries, new data centres always consume far more power than their predecessors, so the upcoming wave of refurbishment will further accelerate demand.  

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST  These staggering forecasts for power demand, high intensity racks, and surges in usage all point to cooling optimisation and improved monitoring technology as very hot areas

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Blackout Britain - Ofgen warns of danger of UK power shortages 

Independent, Times and others : 28 June 2013  

The Independent and Times had front page coverage of Ofgen's announcement that the danger of UK power shortages has significantly increased. Th gap between supply and demand, previously estimated at 4% at its lowest, could reach between 2% and 5% by 2015 / 2016. A level of 2% would increased the risk of UK blackouts by the middle of the decade. Ofgen warned that more investment in power generation and other action is needed to protect consumers from the risk of blackouts.  

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST: Improved energy efficiency will be rising up the agenda of UK data centre managers, and the political appetite for tax and other regulatory incentives to improve sector efficiency is likely to increase.

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Mediocre results for energy efficiency : New report highlights poorer than expected US PUE performance 

Digital Realty Trust Survey : April 2013  

A new Digital Realty Trust survey suggests that large data centers may be less energy efficient than previously suggested. DRT’s poll of 300 centres billing over $1bn pa revealed an average PUE of 2.9. This contrasts with the Uptime Institute’s 2012 survey average of 1.85, and the US EPA 2009 survey average of 1.91. A stunning 9% of respondents had a PUE of 4.0 or worse. There is a new focus on efficiency - 80% have some form of hot or cold aisle containment (up from 60% in 2011) and 85% have some form of data center infrastructure management software.   

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST  The potential for efficiency improvement in large US data centres may be far higher than hitherto assessed. The long tail of very poor performers (PUE exceeding 4.0) is very surprising

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21st Century Data Centre Industry Overview - Raising Set Points a Significant Trend 

ZD Net : 2 April 2013  

This comprehensive survey of data centre trends includes new Uptime Institute survey findings on average US PUE scores - 1.8 - 1.89, and measures which managers are taking to improve PUE, the most significant of which are hot and cold aisle containment, and raising temperature set points. Also noted is the beginning of a trend to implement Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools.

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST:  Celsius high definition temperature monitoring is at the sweet spot of several long run industry trends. The relatively poor average US PUE scores shows there is still considerable potential for improvement.

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UK Energy Supply – Falling off a Cliff?

Andrew Jones, Alquist Founder : January 2013  

Improving energy usage has historically ranked low on UK corporate agendas. It typically forms part of a diffuse “green agenda” responding to employee and customer sensitivities, oil price hikes, and proposed penal carbon taxes. Over the next decade energy efficiency is likely to become a much more pressing concern. An unprecedented combination of UK capacity closure, increasing industrial demand, and global energy shortfall is predicted by most commentators to lead to sustained real price increases of 5-10% per year.  This article examines whether these grim predictions are justified, and how skyrocketing energy prices may affect one of UK’s highest growth sectors – the data centre market.

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST Improved energy efficiency will be rising up the agenda of UK data centre managers, and the political appetite for tax and other regulatory incentives to improve sector efficiency is likely to increase

Article Link coming soon..

 

The Approaching “Near Crisis” 

Alistair Buchanan : Chief Executive, Ofgen : 19 February 2013 : BBC Radio 4 Interview

Ofgen Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan explains why the UK will inevitably face significant energy price rises over the next 3 – 5 years, and is likely to experience further shortages medium term. A combination of planned UK power station closures; absence of new-build investment, and a very tight global gas market will prove very painful for the UK and Europe. The US outlook is far rosier due to lower priced shale gas – but this will only be available in the US marketplace.

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST Improved energy efficiency will be rising up the agenda of UK data centre managers, and the political appetite for tax and other regulatory incentives to improve sector efficiency is likely to increase

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The Green Data Centre Market will surpass $45bn by 2016 

Pike Research : 14 September 2012

Pike Research highlight two factors - virtualisation and cloud computing - which will lead to 28% pa growth, from $17bn in 2012 to $45bn in 2016, for the power and cooling part of the data centre industry. Although virtualisation has the potential to reduce energy consumption, but itself it is not enough. Other components of the data centre infrastructure will need to be optimised to support more dynamic and high intensity computing environments. Likewise, cloud computing has many efficiency advantages, but new metrics and new levels of transparency are required if its impact on the environment is to be adequately assessed, the report finds.  

IMPLICATION FOR ALQUIST: High definition temperature monitoring, linked to automated control systems, can play an important part in helping operators acheive potential efficiency gains arising from virtualisation and cloud computing

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