Is the Cloud Causing a Global Water Crisis?

There are already acres of data centres anonymously tucked away in innocuous sites across the globe. The number of commercial buildings requiring the facility of a dedicated data centre is increasing as the world relies more heavily on technology, and, in particular, the Internet of Things, to carry out tasks. The need for these dedicated facilities brings with it additional pressures on those responsible for reducing the associated environmental impact, especially where it comes to water usage.

While the most significant impact is energy consumption, we cannot ignore the carbon cost of data. We may think of emails etc. as being carbon free, but that is far from the case; when you contemplate the amount of energy used and subsequent CO2 emissions in operating even a small data centre, you will see why this issue needs to be monitored and addressed.

When a midsize conventionally cooled data centre can use as much water as three average hospitals, data centre cooling options are a hot topic for everyone. The big names in technology, including Microsoft, Google and Apple, are determined to lead the way in finding sustainable solutions. Now, Lubron has its own part to play and, working with the manufacturers of cooling equipment for these facilities, has developed a hygienic low water and chemical approach to data centre cooling.

the cloud causing a global water crisis

Microsoft’s Project Natick

Still in its infancy, Project Natick seeks to create a sustainable data centre which leverages locally produced green energy, providing customers with additional options to meet their own sustainability requirements, by exploring the potential of deploying subsea data centres around the world. Half of the world’s population lives within 200 km of the ocean so placing data centres offshore increases the proximity of the data centre to the population dramatically reducing latency (how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination) and providing better responsiveness. Natick data centres are made from recycled material which in turn is recycled at the end of life of the datacentre. It is planned that they will be zero emission, highly reliable and consume no water for cooling or other purposes.

Google

Google’s data centres use 50% less energy than the average facility and are among the most efficient in the world. They are designed to make optimum use of their surroundings and minimise their environmental impact; a ‘free cooling’ process using natural resources e.g. cold outside air, water evaporation or thermal reservoirs removes the need for mechanical chillers and saves energy. Continuing the theme of reducing the use of water, Google seeks to ensure its new data centres are self-sufficient when it comes to water supply; for instance, a data centre in Belgium was built next to an industrial canal, and in Douglas County, Georgia the company uses sewer water to cool its facility.

Apple

Apple’s data centre needs are smaller than Google’s and Amazon’s but it is among the industry leaders when it comes to sustainability; 93% of Apple’s global operations run on sustainable energy and 100% green power is used in its US operations. A 2015 Greenpeace scorecard graded Apple as the only tech company with a 100% Clean Energy Index.

As a water treatment provider, Lubron can provide solutions on any scale to assist in the operation of a data centre. For further information, please contact us.