DCN October 2016 - Page 21

green IT current power crisis continues, it is predicted that there will be a 55 per cent electricity supply gap by 2025. The power grid – which has become the central nervous system of today’s data driven economy – is also feeling the strain of rising data loads. More and more business decision makers are turning to green resources to provide the electricity they need to keep the lights on. But are green energy resources actually as green as is often promised? ‘Green’ isn’t always clean Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable resources is not as easy as it may sound – primarily due to the intermittency of renewable energy supplies. For example, wind and solar power – two of the most commonly used green resources – are heavily reliant on fluctuating weather patterns and strength of supply. Both are therefore inconsistently efficient, with periods where little to no energy is produced, ie. at night, or when there is little wind. To keep things running, those dips in energy production have to be bridged with other power supplies – often fossil backed generation sources from a central power grid. So, while investment in renewables certainly helps to decarbonise the power grid, their use within this kind of integrated power system means they cannot be considered 100 per cent carbon free. Hence ‘green’ is not always truly green. The only locations where green resources can be considered completely carbon free are in regions when the vast majority of power is 100 per cent renewably generated. And there are only a handful of electricity grids in the world where this is the case. Keep it cool So what does the ideal storage solution look like for CIOs searching for abundant and reliable energy, whilst improving (or retaining) their green credentials? The answer is simple: a location that is cost effective, well connected, cold and benefits from stable power infrastructure. For many businesses, this means relocating to one of the handful of grids previously mentioned. For this reason, recent years have seen data centre providers and the companies within their campuses migrating north to naturally colder regions such as Canada, parts of the USA (ie. Washington State and Montana) and the Nordics: including Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Here data centres benefit from lower ambient temperatures, allowing providers to utilise natural air to cool servers at little to no cost, and with zero emissions released. A win-win for businesses in search of cost and environmental efficiencies. In addition, Iceland’s power grid is ranked the lowest risk in the world – currently operating at just 10 per cent capacity, and to 4:9s of availability (meaning it experiences an average of just 52 minutes downtime a year, if at all). Norway and Finland come a close second and third. These countries also happen to be trailblazing innovations in renewable energy, with Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s National Power Company) planning to develop up to 2,000MW of additional renewable power capacity – particularly geothermal, hydropower and ground-breaking deep magma drilling – between now and 2030. So, while there are many theories and opinions surrounding renewable energy the only way to ensure your business is 100 per cent carbon free is to locate within a completely carbon free grid. Iceland and the Nordics are prime examples of regions that benefit from sustainable, reliable and renewable energy options – representing the optimal location for CIOs looking to take advantage of affordable, green energy. By getting to grips with the differences between renewable and 100 per cent carbon free resources, business decision makers will soon see that green isn’t truly green, until you head north... 21