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Posted by Anna Nicholls on 13-Jun-2022 11:14:07

Data centres and sustainability - what are we doing to make our facility greener?

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As a responsible data centre provider, we work hard to keep our energy consumption as low as we possibly can. That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps to monitor and reduce the amount of energy we use across our Manchester facility, in line with the city’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2038.

In 2019 we invested £1.5 Million into a 2MW capable battery storage system which enables us to store electricity from the national grid at times of low demand and discharge it during the most beneficial periods, acting as a reserve during peak tariff times. The solution offers integrated variable voltage optimisation to deliver a stabilised voltage, thus boosting the resilience of the facility by improving the shelf life of equipment, reducing unnecessary energy waste and optimising the incoming power supply. We were supported on this project by the Business Growth Hub and we are the only colocation provider in the UK to have implemented these technologies.

More recently, we announced in January this year that we will be considering the option of installing a scalable 1.2MW hydrogen-ready fuel cell microgrid to provide clean energy to our facility. The fuel cell would convert fuels such as natural gas, biogas and hydrogen - or a blend of fuels - into electricity through an electrochemical process that requires no combustion, therefore avoiding the emissions normally associated with burning this type of fuel. Working with Conrad Energy, Electricity North West (Construction & Maintenance) Limited (ENWCML) and Bloom Energy we would be the first data centre in the UK to deploy fuel cell technology and the move would help us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a cleaner, hydrogen ready fuel supply.

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Other measures put in place to improve our energy efficiency include metered power at every board and office in the building; the implementation of highly intelligent control systems to monitor cooling consumption; cold aisle containment; under-floor cold air channelling to minimise wastage; variable fans within condenser units; free air cooling systems; office space air conditioning controls to minimise wastage out of hours; highly efficient cooling pumps and cold aisle blanking throughout the facility.

Intelligent Building Management Systems (BMS) allow us to harness machine learning via automated control temperature sensors placed in strategic locations to ensure that all units are working at the required temperature and load levels. The BMS monitors all air conditioning components to ensure maximum efficiency and issues an early warning to non-optimal situations.

These measures have already reduced our carbon output by over 500 tonnes annually, with the fuel cell set to reduce our carbon footprint even further providing clean, always-on power whilst facilitating a transition to a net-zero future.

Topics: manchester, hosting, it industry, power, energy efficiency, data centres, carbon neutrality, environment

Anna Nicholls

Written by Anna Nicholls

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