U.S. data centers are using more electricity than they need. It takes 34 power plants, each capable of generating 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, to power all the data centers in operation today. By 2020, the nation will need another 17 similarly sized power plants to meet projected data center energy demands as economic activity becomes increasingly digital.
Increased electrical generation from fossil fuels means release of more carbon emissions. But this added pollution doesn't have to be, according to a new report on data center energy efficiency from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action organization.
In term of national energy, data centers in total used 91 billion (kilowatts) kWh in 2013, and by 2020, will be using 139 billion kWh, a 53% increase.
The report argues that improved energy efficiency practices by data centers could cut energy waste by at least 40%. The problems hindering efficiency include comatose or ghost servers, which use power but don't run any workloads; overprovisioned IT resources; lack of virtualization; and procurement models that don't address energy efficiency. The typical computer server operates at no more than 12% to 18% of capacity, and as many as 30% of servers are comatose, the report states.
The paper tallies up the consequences of inattention and neglect on a national scale. It was assembled and reviewed with help from organizations including Microsoft, Google, Dell, Intel, The Green Grid, Uptime Institute and Facebook, which made "technical and substantial contributions."
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc