Data center energy consumption will increase. Are you (not) surprised?

A new study finds that data centers around the world will consume more energy.

For a few years now, data centers have been labeled energy hogs. Now, a new study by DatacenterDynamics estimates that the world's data centers will consume 19% more energy in the next 12 months than they have in the past year. The findings are from the 2011 Data Center Industry Census, a new study from DatacenterDynamics, a U.K.-based provider of content and events for data center professionals.

The report is a comparative study of data center operators and end-users as well as the facilities which they manage. A total of 5,400 interviews were completed during June and July 2011 to provide a detailed view of 22 key markets around the globe.

The study also estimates that data centers currently consume about 31GW. The average total power to rack is about 4.05kW, with 58% of racks consuming 5kW per rack, 28% consuming from 5kW to 10kW per rack and the rest consuming more than 10kW per rack. With the increase in energy consumption, it’s is not surprising then that the study found that 44 percent of those surveyed believe increased energy costs will impact significantly on their data center operations in the next 12 months. That concern ranked highest among issues. What’s more, nearly a third, or 29 percent, are concerned about the significant impact of energy availability (or the lack of it). And 42 percent of respondents believe that the development of more energy efficient equipment will have significant impact, while 40 percent believe developments in virtualization will have significant impact.

The study ranks data center power consumption among regions and countries, and I thought this was pretty interesting. Basically, power demand is expected to be greatest in areas where there’s the highest projected facility growth in the next year, and developed markets show a lower percentage increase but larger actual amount of extra power required. The lowest ten markets are all developed – they mostly already have high density racks and are advanced in using monitoring, IT architecture and efficiency strategies to minimize the power increases required to increase capacity, the report notes. The largest growth markets are China and Brazil, and each looking to require huge amounts of extra power. India, Mexico and Russia are In the middle of the list, and represent three economies which indicate strong facility and investment growth but only average projected power increase.

The study also delves into power monitoring. The United Kingdom – defined as a developed ‘global’ market with a large number of facilities and moderate future growth rates – ranks as one of the highest in terms of monitoring carbon within the data center. That makes sense; U.K. businesses are faced with taxation on carbon emission. Surprisingly, though, China – defined as a major developing market with a rapidly increasing facility and power profile to support the growth of its information and communications technology (ICT) requirements – also ranks as one of the highest in terms of carbon monitoring within the data center. The report attributes that to expert sources who suggest China is becoming more “energy vulnerable” and thus are adding the monitoring capability as early preparation for that.

The eastern United States ranked the highest in overall, continuous monitoring of energy efficiency (the western U.S. ranked fifth and the central U.S. ranked eighth).

There is plenty of other interesting information. The Global Data Center Energy Demand Forecasting study can be downloaded free here.

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