How Telehouse Europe is keeping its cool
If there’s one thing holding digital technologies back from becoming sustainable, it’s the amount of energy they consume.
New and promising technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital twins and blockchain – the very technologies that might help us on the path to net zero – are not exempt from emitting carbons just by virtue of being digital. The physical storage these technologies need, especially as they scale up, consume a tonne of energy.
Cambridge University has found that cryptocurrencies alone consume more electricity than the entire annual energy consumption of the Netherlands, and other studies suggest that data centres and cloud computing emit more global greenhouse gas emissions than commercial flights.
So, it’s all eyes on data centres to relieve themselves, and their business partners, of these carbon emissions – and data centre service provider Telehouse Europe has felt this pressure.
With more than 3,000 business partners including carriers, enterprises and financial services using its data centres, Telehouse Europe has been actively trying to keep its energy consumption down since 2016 through efficiently cooling its data centres.
In another awkward balancing act, while data centres need cooling to prevent overheating (which consumes more energy and shortens the lifespan of the equipment which causes more e-waste) excessively cooling data centres too consume water and energy.
“Data centres need to be using indicators that monitor the levels of energy and water consumption, plus any waste produced, to identify areas for improvement and to keep their power usage as efficient as possible,” says Ozgur Duzgunoglu, Telehouse Europe’s head of engineering.
Telehouse has been actively trying to stay sustainable since 2016, when it unveiled a multi-story adiabatic cooling system at its London Docklands campus, which worked on using free cooling and adiabatic cooling to regulate temperature and save energy.
The data centre provider has also been using 100% renewable energy and takes advantage of cloud, virtualisation and innovative cooling to contribute to efficiency, but it recognises there’s more to be done.
Telehouse still faces an ongoing challenge ensuring its data centres perform well for its customers, while also securing carbon reductions.
“Over the coming years, pressure is only going to increase to tackle climate change and meet government commitments to achieve net zero,” enforces Duzgunoglu, and “we hope to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030”.
To address this issue, Telehouse worked with software and analytics provider EkkoSense to deploy its SaaS-based 3D visualisation and analytics platform.
The Nottingham-based firm uses artificial intelligence and virtual reality to help data centres monitor, visualise and analyse the performance of data centre facilities using thermal sensors at its North data centre.
The technology uses thousands of temperature and cooling points across the site in real-time to identify where levels of cooling can be tweaked and has since increased Telehouse’s level of data available for its operation team.
If the temperature in a section of the data centre is outside the normal range, the sensors will flag this. Then, it will provide the team with advice about adjusting cooling settings such as fan speed adjustments and cooling set points.
This is only further enhanced by the 3D visualisation capabilities, which allows the team to get a much clearer picture of where overcooling is taking place, for example, the location of hotspots or any other issues affecting efficiency.
“Recently, we’ve worked with EkkoSense to deploy its EkkoSoft Critical SaaS 3D visualisation and analytics platform which has given our team the visibility to minimise cooling energy usage and remove thermal risk,” says Duzgunoglu.
The 3D visualisation software uses a gaming interface to provide the teams with an easy-to-use platform through a digital twin.
Telehouse’s senior operations director, Paul Lewis, says: “It’s difficult to manually inspect every element of a data centre to identify inefficiencies and make improvements. EkkoSoft Critical provides us with a highly granular level of data and visualisation to help support our green agenda – and ensure our customers meet their sustainability targets.”
He added, “We’ve already made significant carbon emission reductions from our initial rollout of EkkoSoft Critical at Telehouse North, and we’re eager to implement the software around our wider campus to extend these capabilities.”
Since Telehouse implemented the software, it has identified a potential 10% in cooling load saving, which will enable Telehouse to achieve an anticipated 461 tonnes reduction in CO2 emissions from its first EkkoSense deployment in its data centre Telehouse North.
Meanwhile, Telehouse recommends a few other practical steps to be more sustainable, such as “reusing waste heat, utilising high temperature liquid cooling system and low power servers, and leveraging hot and cold aisle containment”.
As a data centre provider, Telehouse also says that flexible working initiatives can make a difference, “this can reduce the compute emission from employees and lessen data centre energy use.”
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