Servers are used to process and store information in large quantities. With the explosion of digital content and internet traffic, their number is exploding, as is their total energy consumption.
According to the European Commission, servers, storage and network equipment consume approximately 2% of total electricity in the EU-28. With a current consumption rate of around 105 TWh per year (including cooling demand), they consume close to the entire residential electricity consumption of the UK.
While part of data centre energy savings opportunities are operational in nature (getting data centre operators to power down unused servers and increase utilisation levels of others), there are important ways servers and data equipment can be designed to save energy.
By regulating a power supply unit’s efficiency, and applying higher inlet temperature for example, a study carried out for the European Commission in 2015 concluded that Ecodesign measures could help reduce the total electricity consumption of servers by up to 20% by 2025 compared to a business as usual scenario. Setting an Energy Label coulds also be envisaged.
Furthermore, research by the US Natural Resources Defence Council recently concluded that up to 30% of servers in data centres are unused but still powered on and drawing electricity 24/7. Many others are significantly underutilised, with average utilisation levels around 12%. Reducing the unnecessary electricity consumed by servers doing little or no work, and the energy used to cool them, is by far the largest opportunity for energy savings in data centers.
What’s the European Union doing?
The preparatory study laying the ground for energy efficiency measure on enterprise servers was completed in November 2015. The European Commission put forward a draft Ecodesign proposal targetting both energy efficiency and resource efficiency of servers in February 2017.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
The Coolproducts campaign welcomes the work undertaken by the Commission and would like to see measures be adopted swiftly.
We believe that ambitious measures to optimise server efficiency for idle and low-load operating conditions are strongly needed, without further delay.
The requirements put forward by the Commission to facilitate the dismantling and recycling of servers are a step in the right direction.
Having an energy label would bring transparency and guide consumers towards a server which fits their needs and could thereby avoid underutilisation of the equipment.
Coolproducts' technical input and position papers are available below
NRDC report on data centers (2014): http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/data-center-efficiency-assessment-IP.pdf