What Are the Effective Methods to Reduce Energy Consumption in UK Data Centers?

April 9, 2024

In the modern era, data centers play a pivotal role in virtually every aspect of our lives. At the heart of the digital world, they store, process, and distribute vast amounts of data. However, their crucial role comes with a significant environmental footprint, largely due to the enormous amount of energy they consume. In the UK, there is a growing focus on reducing energy consumption in data centers to improve efficiency and sustainability. In this article, we will delve into various effective methods to lower power usage and enhance energy efficiency in data centers.

The Significance of Energy Efficiency in Data Centers

The demand for digital services has exploded, causing a surge in data center usage. With increasing reliance on cloud computing and storage, the energy demand of these centers has escalated, driving up costs and carbon emissions. Consequently, energy efficiency has emerged as a central theme in the management of data centers.

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In the UK, data centers consume about 3% of the total electricity, a significant portion of which is used for cooling systems. The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a measure of a data center’s energy efficiency, is typically above 1.5 for most UK centers. This means that for every 1.5 watts of electricity used by the IT equipment, an additional half watt is consumed by cooling systems, power distribution, and other ancillary systems. Reducing this surplus consumption is key to improving energy efficiency.

Server Virtualization and Consolidation

One effective method to reduce energy consumption is server virtualization. This technique allows for multiple operating systems and applications to run on a single physical server. As a result, fewer physical servers are needed, leading to a reduction in energy usage.

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Server consolidation goes hand in hand with virtualization. This involves combining the functions of several servers onto fewer machines, thereby reducing the number of physical servers in operation. This not only cuts down on the energy used but also shrinks the physical footprint of the data center, leading to savings in cooling equipment and related energy costs.

Advanced Cooling Techniques

In data centers, cooling systems consume a significant portion of the total energy. Therefore, improving cooling efficiency is a major step towards reducing overall energy consumption.

One advanced cooling technique is the use of free cooling. This involves using external air or water to cool the equipment instead of relying on traditional air conditioning units. This method can drastically reduce energy consumption, especially in cooler climates like the UK.

Liquid immersion cooling is another innovative technique. Here, servers are immersed in a special non-conductive liquid that absorbs and dissipates heat more efficiently than air. Although this method requires an initial investment, it can lead to substantial energy savings in the long run.

Energy-Efficient Equipment and Design

The choice of equipment can also have a substantial impact on a data center’s energy efficiency. Modern, energy-efficient servers are designed to perform more computations per unit of energy, thereby reducing overall power consumption.

Similarly, data center design can significantly influence energy usage. For instance, designing a center with optimal airflow can help minimize the need for active cooling. Hot aisle/cold aisle design, which involves arranging server racks in alternating rows of hot and cold, is one example of such energy-efficient design.

Use of Renewable Energy

Another method to reduce energy usage in data centers is to switch to renewable energy sources. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric power can serve as sustainable alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. Many data centers in the UK are exploring this option, either by installing their own renewable energy facilities or sourcing their power from renewable energy providers.

While switching to renewable energy may not reduce the actual consumption of energy, it does reduce the carbon footprint of the data center. This makes it a key part of the broader strategy for reducing the environmental impact of data centers.

In conclusion, there are several effective methods for reducing energy consumption in UK data centers, ranging from server virtualization to the use of renewable energy. By implementing these methods, data centers can increase their energy efficiency, lower their operating costs, and reduce their environmental impact. The drive towards more energy-efficient data centers is not only a necessity for our planet but also a smart business move in the long run.

Data Centre Monitoring and Automation

A crucial aspect of enhancing energy efficiency in data centres revolves around monitoring and automation. The importance of data centre monitoring cannot be overstated. This process entails continuously tracking and reviewing the energy consumption of different systems within the data centre. By doing so, operators can identify any inefficiencies or areas where energy is being wasted and take corrective measures.

Automation, on the other hand, involves the use of intelligent systems to control and manage the data centre’s operations. These systems can adjust power usage based on the data centre’s load, thereby preventing excess energy consumption. For instance, during periods of low demand, the automation system can power down unnecessary servers, resulting in significant energy savings.

In addition to controlling power usage, automation systems can also manage the centre’s cooling systems. Advanced automation systems can continuously monitor the temperature in different parts of the data centre and optimize the cooling accordingly. This not only reduces the energy consumed by the cooling systems but also extends the life of the equipment.

Automation and monitoring systems are typically combined with other energy efficiency measures. For example, they can be used in conjunction with server virtualization to manage the power usage of the virtual servers efficiently. They can also help in optimizing the airflow in a data centre designed with the hot aisle/cold aisle configuration, thereby minimizing the need for active cooling.

The Role of Green Data Centre Operators

Green data centre operators are becoming increasingly important in the UK’s drive to reduce energy consumption in data centres. These operators are committed to running their data centres in a manner that minimizes environmental impact. They employ a range of methods, from advanced cooling techniques to the use of renewable energy, to enhance their centres’ energy efficiency.

Many green data centre operators are also striving to make their centres carbon neutral. This involves not only reducing their own energy consumption but also offsetting any remaining emissions through methods like carbon sequestration or purchasing carbon credits.

Furthermore, green data centre operators often lead the way in adopting new and innovative energy efficiency technologies. For instance, they may be among the first to implement advanced cooling methods like liquid cooling or free cooling. They are also likely to invest in state-of-the-art energy-efficient equipment and to design their centres for optimal energy usage.


Given their significant energy consumption, improving energy efficiency in data centres is crucial for the UK’s efforts to combat climate change. There are a myriad of methods that can be employed to achieve this goal, from server virtualization and consolidation to advanced cooling techniques and the use of renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, the role of data centre monitoring and automation, as well as the growing importance of green data centre operators, should not be underestimated. These elements are vital in optimizing power usage, reducing energy consumption, and ensuring the sustainability of the data centre industry.

While these methods require investment and commitment, the long-term benefits are substantial. They can result in significant energy savings, reduced operating costs, and a smaller environmental footprint. Therefore, the drive towards more energy-efficient data centres is not just a necessity for our planet, but also a smart business move that will pay dividends in the long run.