A new report from cleantech market research firm Pike Research says that the widespread adoption of data centre technologies and best practices could significantly limit the growth of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from data centres through to 2016. Emissions are expected to total 1326 million tons if no action is taken, but green data centre best practices could reduce that total to 1156 million tons, a saving of 13%.
Corporate computing requirements continue to grow, consumer IT is expanding and the adoption of IT in emerging countries is escalating. At the same time, the adoption of cloud computing is pushing more of the IT into data centres. Pike estimates that the data centre industry now consumes around 1.5%% of the world’s energy.
The research firm believes that addressing these issues represents an annual market opportunity that will be worth more than $45bn worldwide by 2016. Double-digit revenue growth is projected for Europe and North America (CAGRs of almost 27% for both markets), with even higher estimates for the Asia Pacific region.
At first glance the savings of 13% seem relatively small, given the opportunities there are to reduce data centre power use, such as server consolidation and virtualisation, running machines hotter to reduce cooling, using external air to cool and so on. But the sobering thought is that, with data centre capacity growing so rapidly, the impact of these green data centre actions only limits the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by less than 15%. It’s a reminder of how far there is yet to go in reducing ICT emissions.
The findings give some support to Greenpeace’s green cloud campaign to get more renewable energy used in data centres. Last week Greenpeace activists barricaded themselves in an ‘iPod’ at Apple’s headquarters to protest against the company’s coal-powered iCloud.
The protest seems to have had an impact. On Friday Apple’s website said that by the end of 2012 all the needs of its Maiden, North Carolina, data centre would be met by renewable energy – 60% from its own generation.