Powering the Indian Tech Sector with Green Data Centres

22 Sep 2022

In the last couple of years, technology adoption by Indian companies grew at an exponential rate. Focussed drive from the Government of India to realize the vision of ‘Digital India’ and factors such as higher usage of internet due to pandemic-induced lockdown, increased the use of smart devices, adoption of cloud services, digital payments, etc. has led to higher data consumption and an ever-expansive internet bandwidth across the country.

This in turn has led to the rise of data centers in India. India houses over 200+ large data centers (as on 21 September 2022). A data center is a designated space or a building that houses an organization’s computers, storage systems and infrastructure to store & archive, integrate and process large amount of data. Data centers, as the sole repositories of all information of a company, have become a critical part of the Indian Industry’s digitization journey.

However, they have huge carbon footprints as they rely heavily on fossil fuel-generated electricity, not just to run & operate, but also to cool down the machinery and hardware. Data centers generate a large amount of waste heat which does not get recycled. Most data centres use cooling towers (for evaporating water to cool IT hardware) which also creates long-lasting environmental concerns.

To reduce the carbon emissions, companies across the world are switching to green data centers as they are energy efficient, have minimum impact on the environment due to low emission levels and benefit the organization in terms of energy & cost saving.

Green data centers are designed with considerations to green concepts such as energy efficiency, O&M, water conservation, building material and IEQ. In fact, considering the future requirements, several companies in the data center industry have set targets to achieve net zero goals.

In 2010, the CII Indian Green Business Council released guidelines to improve ‘energy efficiency and best practices in Indian data centres’ in 2010 (jointly published by CII and BEE). To introduce sustainability through green measures, CII formed a technical committee in 2015. Subsequently, the IGBC Green Data Center Rating was launched in 2016.

The rating is intended to enable construction and operation of data centers with enhanced resource efficiency, thereby leading to national benefits. It addresses various issues related to energy efficiency, operation & maintenance, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, site selection & planning, building material and resources.

The key focus of the rating system is to introduce energy efficiency in data centers as part of sustainability concepts. The rating enables the data centers to demonstrate optimized energy performance and encourage deployment of advanced technological solutions to sustain energy cost savings.

The Indian data center industry, which accounts for 1-2% of the global pie, is estimated to have clocked a modest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15-20%. India’s share in the global data center industry is further expected to rise in the next decade and it is important to optimize their energy consumption. Adoption of green data center rating can enable the projects to reduce Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) by 30% (PUE can be achieved in the range of 1.25 to 1.4 in green data centers, while conventional data centers operate at a PUE of 1.6 to 1.8, which consumes significant energy).

In the last one decade, CII IGBC has helped the data center industry to reduce the PUE significantly. As on date, the centre has trained over 700+ data center professionals. More than 35 data centers are registered/certified with CII IGBC for green data center certification (with the total registered green footprint over 6.38 million sq ft).

CII IGBC also initiated a collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA (which was funded by Department of Energy, USA) to develop a roadmap for Indian data centers to become globally competitive. The joint initiative strengthens the rating system, while addressing energy efficiency in chiller, cooling, electrical systems, IT hardware and management. IGBC and LBNL also developed the User Guide for Implementing ECBC (2017) in Indian data centers. The guide, launched in July 2021, has been supported by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Ministry of Power.

As more and more businesses switch to green data centres and look at reducing carbon emissions, the industry will soon witness the benefits that it carries for organizations as well as the environment.

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