Power supply is top consideration when choosing datacentres, shows study

Power supply is most important to managers choosing a new datacentre, says UK and European Data Centre Barometer study

About two-thirds of IT decision-makers and datacentre managers rank power supply as their number one consideration when choosing a new datacentre, according to the 10th UK and European Data Centre Barometer survey by real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle.

The latest study, undertaken by datacentre consulting company iX Consulting, echoed the findings of another study of IT executives which found that 71% of respondents rated datacentre energy efficiency as top priority, compared with just 34% five years ago.

The annual datacentre report also warned that the rise in the datacentre sector’s consumption of traditional power supply means it is “swimming against the tide of global modern policy and power consumption which is placing an increased emphasis on renewable energy."

The warning comes as energy regulator Ofgem warned that electricity supplies are set to tighten faster than previously expected in the middle of this decade. It warned that that the risk of power cuts in the UK has increased.

The effects on datacentre property

The study examined how global energy supply and regulation will affect the datacentre property sector. 

In addition to revealing power supply as the top consideration, it also found that nuclear power across Europe is the most important source of power production in the run up to 2020, knocking gas from the top of the utilities list.

“The more the datacentre industry understands the challenges of the energy market, the more closely it can align itself to achieving its own objectives," said David Willcocks, director of Jones Lang LaSalle’s datacentre team. "Its success is inextricably linked to its ability to source a reliable and cost-effective power solution. 

“The most notable issue is the cost implications of replacing ageing, environmentally-unfriendly power infrastructure. These will all have an effect on a country’s competitiveness against its European neighbours when vying for the attention of large datacentre requirements,” Willcocks said.

The report cited some examples of high-profile and innovative datacentre energy use, particularly in in the US. For instance, internet giants such as Google and Facebook are building datacentres powered by renewable energy. Other tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft are also looking to cut their IT facilities’ carbon emissions.

Neighbouring a landfill

One of Microsoft’s datacentre buildings is located next to a Wyoming landfill so that it can use its methane gas, while Google and Facebook have strategically chosen their datacentres in Oklahoma and Iowa so they can directly benefit from wind energy.

Even large datacentres built to provide cloud services to enterprises are overwhelmingly powered by dirty, coal-fired plants, warned Greenpeace.

While there are examples of IT facilities being built next to renewable forms of energy, respondents to the study admitted they do not see proximity to a renewable energy source as important in terms of location.

This is because there is still a demand for datacentres in or near large urban areas, for reasons such as low latency, proximity or data sovereignty.

“The majority of datacentres, therefore, will continue to face the on-going difficulties of accessibility to a secure and low-cost power supply,” Willcocks warned.

The research also found a fall in the number of respondents who will be reducing their in-house datacentre space. 

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