Carbon Crisis and its Effect on Data Center Design of the Panelboards

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution during the 18th century, rising levels of global atmospheric CO2 have been progressively recorded. Over the last few decades however, this trend has began to cause real concern within both the scientific community, and the general populace. Mounting apprehension has consequently pressured governments to react, and as a result: regulatory bodies have been formed in many regions; new emission laws and carbon taxes are being drafted and trialed; and companies are being made to answer for their carbon emissions and energy utilization.

Electrical Consumption Savings, the panelboards

The Information technology industry is one sector that has been hit hard by these changes, which basically call for facilities to eventually become carbon neutral. IT installations are finding this particularly problematic, as they are responsible for at least two percent of contemporary global carbon emissions, which seems an almost impossible amount to reduce or offset. Modern data centers are however, rising to the challenge, uncovering new cutting edge methods for conserving energy and reducing their carbon footprint including new designs of the panelboards.

One of the most common areas of energy inefficiency and waste in modern data centers is equipment cooling. Traditionally data centers have maintained temperatures of between 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as older, less technologically advanced equipment was easily damaged by temperatures exceeding these limits. Modern hardware and software advances however, mean that components are more robust and can therefore be cooled via new, more advanced methods.

Data centers in many temperate regions are therefore trialing ‘out-of-the-box’ cooling methods such as ‘free cooling’, which involves the utilization of filtered external air to cool equipment. Centers in warmer areas in comparison are using liquid cooling systems, owing to the increased efficiency of liquid as a cooling agent compared to air. This move away from traditional air-conditioning is a significant occurrence regarding energy conservation, as conventional cooling methods are estimated to account for up to 70 percent of facilities energy requirements.

Data centers are also increasing their energy efficiency simply by becoming more aware of where they use their power. The energy utilization of many center components is therefore monitored as standard, and non-efficient components are often immediately replaced or upgraded. Companies building new centers are also better informed, meaning that installations are designed to be ‘green’ from the panelboards to the coolant systems, and are therefore much more efficient than older facilities.

IT Companies

Although these and many other changes have been made by the majority of IT companies to improve energy efficiency, there are still many obvious issues regarding energy consumption and carbon neutrality. One of the main contemporary problems within the industry is the lack of international standards or a global regulatory body. This absence of guidelines and control allows businesses to outsource IT requirements, or to move their IT installations offshore, essentially ‘hiding’ their environmental impact from domestic regulatory bodies.

It is consequently obvious, that although the information technology industry, and data centers in particular are currently by no means energy efficient, or carbon neutral, great moves have been made by most installations to reduce their energy usage. It is believed that advances in modern technology, as well as the formation of an international regulatory body, would greatly aid these installations to reach their goals regarding energy efficiency.