With continued investment in modernization, organizations must consider the effects of their digital transformation initiatives on the climate. However, this isn’t solely a question of contributing to the collective good. According to IDC, companies that have been proactive in marrying business and sustainability have pulled ahead of their competitors.

From reduced waste and optimized costs, to better cost-effectiveness and operational efficiencies as well as unlocking new revenue streams; it is becoming evident that climate-conscious digital infrastructure is at the center of better business outcomes.

VC trends in the Southeast Asia data centre market and the move to the cloud

Sustainability, in fact, holds the potential to optimize how we leverage connectivity and data in our daily lives. The juxtaposition of growing demand for critical digital infrastructure, while simultaneously needing to mitigate environmental impact, is worthy of attention. According to Research and Markets, Asia Pacific’s data center market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12% between this year and 2028, by when it will be worth USD53.58 billion. This emphasizes the need for improved data center efficiency, while also highlighting the importance of reducing emissions to keep costs down. In fact, the number could be even higher with neighbouring Malaysia set to lift its renewable energy export ban. The move is likely to facilitate Singapore’s renewables procurement and drive its clean energy objectives.

The balancing act of meeting peak electricity loads

While electricity demand fluctuates between peak and base loads, meeting this demand rests on a combination of resources and strategies.

A common approach is to adjust output to demand via a combination of non-variable power plants and dispatchable generation. Other options range from long-term electricity contracts to purchasing electricity in the spot energy market and reducing overall consumption. Alternatively, energy consumption can be cut from the demand side through a reduction in load and moving toward lower peak periods.

However, to grasp the key to alleviating pressure on energy management and demand management systems, we can look to the peak shifting capability of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

This is a valuable feature that allows better management of energy consumption when electricity demand is at its highest. By acting as an interim container for energy during non-peak hours, peak shifting can release that energy during peak hours to lighten the load on power grids and bring balance to supply and demand. As a result of not consuming electricity during peak hours, this also unlocks significant cost savings.

Leveraging AI/ML

At the same time, organisations should look to cut – or eliminate altogether – costly spikes in demand through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

Leveraging AI/ML in tandem with solar energy is one viable way of achieving this. For instance, AI-powered storage can be paired with solar energy to charge batteries when the sun is down and discharge energy when consumption is most needed i.e. at its highest.

This can be a highly effective means of reducing peaks and far outstrip other methods – like diesel generators or manual equipment shutdown. Not only does this not generate noise and pollution, it also does not require personnel to operate and poses no significant impact to business activities. Another bonus is that it goes some way to furthering the feasibility of solar energy to more customers, generating more savings and doing so sustainably.

This is one way to leverage innovative peak shaving applications to enable value creation for data center owners. By allowing energy-intensive industries to utilize proactive solutions that optimize demand management services and cost saving opportunities, businesses can pursue ‘green’ growth.

Expanding capacity, efficiency and agility sustainably

Facilitating increased data center sustainability requires focusing our sights on integrated design and construction processes, and in particular prefabricated modular data centers.

Regardless of whether an existing facility is being expanded or a new one is being built, prefabrication shortens timelines so that goals can be achieved faster. By streamlining processes and roping in specialists to perform them in a controlled environment, prefabrication eliminates the need for tasks like sourcing system components, coordinating delivery, and on-site integration and testing. Time and resources are saved, as a result, with a fully integrated and tested system arriving on site ready to go.

As projects become more complex, the time savings enabled by prefabrication become greater. Through the ability to compress processes under the management of a single partner, faster speed-to-market increases scalability, raising agility and responsiveness to future demand while lowering capital expenditure. Meanwhile, prefabrication cuts emissions well below the current industry average as it is designed with efficiency at the top of mind, enabling the use of newer technologies such as liquid cooling and intelligent power systems to significantly cut power usage.

It is ironic that data centers are key to the insights that drive innovative solutions in the face of climate change, while itself leaving a hefty carbon footprint. Overcoming this paradox lies in design and operational changes that bring down emissions, water consumption and waste. Certainly, this is an immense opportunity to derive real value through improved cost efficiency and drive the world’s collective effort to avert climate disaster.

The article titled “Why data centre efficiency and sustainability are inseparable” was contributed by Tony Gaunt, Vice President Asia Sales at Vertiv

About the author

As Vice President for Sales, Tony oversees all business operations in Asia, including Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, as well as South Korea and Japan. His focus is on executing go-to-market strategies across key market areas — from direct customers to channel – with a keen focus on building a world class sales organization backed by Vertiv’s breadth of trusted products and services in the region.

Prior to this role, Tony was the Vice President for Colocation and Hyperscale for 12 years, responsible for Vertiv’s business in the Multi-Tenant Data Centre and Cloud Hyperscale sector in ANZ, Asia and India.

With over 27 years of Data Centre experience in the UK, Europe, Australia and Asia, Tony is a seasoned and outstanding sales leader with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. He is a regular industry speaker and trusted thought leader, having contributed to various Tier 1 publications as well as Vertiv research and materials.

He is a strong believer in the establishment of strong industry relationships and customer collaboration; acquiring, maintaining, and presenting industry best practices; plus, the coaching and mentoring of Vertiv’s account managers across the region. He is also a Board Member of Infrastructure Masons Australia chapter.

Tony holds a Masters Degree in Management from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Australia.