EPA: U.S. needs more power plants to support data centers
Data center energy use to double in five years unless steps are taken, agency says
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- The rate at which computers and data centers are using power will double in five years, a rate so rapid that the U.S. will need 10 more electric power plants over that period just to keep up, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a report released today.
But like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the EPA report predicts a future that can be changed -- or at least tweaked.
If IT managers become more Scrooge-like in managing power, and pinch their consumption wherever they can through the adoption of best practices and more efficient technologies, energy consumption can be cut, the EPA argues.
But broader efforts will be needed as well, including "objective, credible information" about the performance of new technologies, combined with federal leadership on data center efficiency and a challenge to the private sector to do more to cut power. Standardized performance measures are also needed, the EPA said.
That is the upshot of a report that treats the entire country as one gigantic user in measuring consumption by all the servers and storage systems in data centers, as well as the systems needed to cool them. It found that electric power consumption doubled from 2000 to 2006 and will double again in five years to reach 100 kilowatt-hours a year by 2011, if nothing changes.
Data centers and servers today account 61 billion kWh annually or 1.5% of the nation's power usage. The federal government is responsible for 10% of that use.
But this report, produced in response to congressional legislation to examine data center power consumption, found "significant potential for energy-efficiency improvements" in data centers with existing technologies and design strategies.
"I really hope it shines a light on a really great opportunity," said Andrew Fanara, a team leader in the EPA's Energy Star program that spearheaded research for the report, which involved major IT vendors. While the IT sector will continue to grow, and needs to because it "makes us more efficient as an economy overall," it's critical to make these systems as efficient as possible, he said.
"If we're going to stabilize and reduce emissions, longer term, we have to slow and then reverse to some degree areas and sectors where emissions are growing," said Fanara.
For individual IT managers, Fanara said he hopes the takeaway from the report is that best practices do matter and that energy-efficient systems are needed from vendors. But in absolute terms, energy use by computer systems will continue to rise, he said.
The rise in power consumption parallels the growth of the Internet, online commerce and the pervasiveness of IT in almost every aspect of life. From a technology perspective, the systems most responsible for gobbling up power are the relatively low-cost x86 servers -- called volume servers in the report and by the industry -- and typically running with one to two physical processors.
- Workload Change: The 70 Percent of Your Business DevOps Forgot Adding WLA early in the development process ensures that the benefits of DevOps accrue for all applications, including your batch services. This paper...
- Oracle EBS and RAC Performance & Elasticity on Vblock™ Systems VCE Vblock™ Systems provide simple, low-risk solutions for migrating from a physical to virtual environment.
- Backup and Recovery of Oracle EBS on VCE Vblock™ Systems This solution architecture describes the key features and benefits of backup and recovery in the virtualized Oracle EBS on Vblock Systems with EMC...
- Zero Downtime Migration for Oracle EBS R12 with RAC on Vblock™ Systems The validation testing of a typical customer configuration outlined in this white paper, utilizes a virtualized Oracle EBS environment. The results illustrate that...
- The Key to Happiness: Throw out Your Data Warehouse In this webinar, Kerry Reitnauer, Director, Solution Architect at FairPoint Communications will discuss the challenges the data warehouse brought, how they migrated to...
- Building Tomorrow's Data Center with Converged Technologies A number of forces are converging: the cloud, converged infrastructure, big data and fabric architectures to name a few. All Data Center White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!