Smart Cooling ControlData centres currently account for over 2% of UK electricity consumption. This is forecast to at least double by 2020. A standard industry measure of data centre efficiency is a centre's Power Usage Efficiency Ratio or PUE. This divides their total power consumption by the amount of power used to support IT operations. A significant number of UK and global data centres operate with a PUE of 2.0 or above. This means that 50% or more of their electricity bill is consumed by air conditioning and air handling, rather than by powering equipment.

The reason for this apparent energy wastage lies in the historic performance of computer equipment. Until recently manufacturers advised that equipment should operate in surrounding air temperatures at or below 26 degrees centigrade, to avoid the risk of damage. Modern equipment is designed to tolerate far higher temperatures. There is therefore limited benefit in running data centres at temperatures approaching 18 degrees centigrade, which is often the case.

 

Widely accepted industry calculations suggest that for every 1 degree increase in temperature, a 4% reduction in electricity spend to power cooling is achievable. A 4-5 degree centigrade increase in operating temperature could therefore generate 20% savings on the air-handling part of a centre's total electricity bill.

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