O2 to cut 1mn kilos of CO2 per year with data centre upgrade
As lockdowns begin to lift across the UK - and the British public returns to its natural habitat of the pub beer garden - the nation’s data usage continues to rise, driven by the ongoing legacy of remote work and the global 5G rollout.
Over the past 12 months, UK carrier O2 recorded record amounts of data passing through its network - an 89% jump compared to the pre-pandemic average recorded in 2019. During the first week of May, O2 reported carrying an average 55% more peak hour data throughput compared to the same week last year. The tide of data is rising, and energy consumption is rising with it.
In order to meet its carbon neutrality commitments by 2025, O2 has announced plans to “radically overhaul” the cooling infrastructure used in its data centres and “core network sites”, an initiative which the company claims will allow it to accelerate its carbon reduction roadmap by saving 1mn kilos of CO2 year-on-year.
“Our number one priority is keeping customers connected, but that cannot be at the expense of the environment,” said Tracey Herald, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at O2. She added that, the more data that O2’s customers use, the hotter the company’s data centres become.
In order to overcome this challenge, O2’s cooling overhaul will abandon air conditioning CRAC units in favour of “fresh air” cooling. “Historically networks have relied on air con, but the UK has plenty of fresh, cold air that does the same job – so we’re getting rid of old kit and using energy in a smarter way,” Herald added.
In addition to switching out its cooling tech, O2 is partnering with EkkoSense to integrate a host of new DCIM tools and smart sensors into its facilities. These steps alone, O2 claims, deliver an energy saving of between 15% and 20% per site – equivalent to 678,000 kilograms of CO2 in its first year of use.
Dean Boyle, CEO at EkkoSense, commented: “Our software’s ability to capture and analyse O2’s critical power, space and cooling information in real-time gives their data centre team access to much more powerful optimisation capabilities, as they progress towards net zero.”
O2 announced its commitment to achieving net zero last year. The company has already cut its carbon emissions by 29% since 2015 - including a 35% carbon reduction in its supply chain in 2016 alone.
Wherever the company directly controls the bill, O2’s operations are 100% powered by renewable energy, and After starting its renewable energy procurement in 2008, the operator has since invested approximately £400 million in renewable energy supply and is now going even further, working with landlords to encourage the switch to renewables on third-party sites where O2 doesn’t control the energy bill. Currently, 70% of O2’s total estate is powered on renewable energy sources.
Sustainability and PUE reduction in data centres
The data centre industry is at a crossroads. As demand for colocation, hyperscale cloud, and edge solutions continues to rise, operators and enterprises are also facing up to the reality that sustainable design and operating practice are a mission critical component of the modern data centre. Going green is no longer an optional extra.
Data centres are becoming an increasingly critical foundation that underpins the modern world, and the demand for them continues to grow exponentially each year. Data centres must remain in constant operation in order to provide the services for which customers depend on them.
This mission critical need, combined with the sector-wide push towards reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint throughout the industry, is making the search for innovative evaporative media solutions that keep systems running at peak efficiency an equally mission critical priority.
The two main sources of energy consumption in a modern data centre are its IT equipment and the cooling infrastructure used to keep that equipment cool. A 2017 study found that energy consumption as the direct result of cooling data centre IT equipment can amount to over 40% of the total energy consumption in a facility. From air cooling to liquid and evaporative chillers, data centre operators, finding the right cooling solution for your facility is a top-of-mind goal for any data centre operator.
Portacool: keeping it Kuul
Based in Center, Texas, Portacool is a portable evaporative cooling solutions firm that has been pushing the boundaries of mission critical infrastructure cooling technology since it entered the market in 1990.
Through constant embodiment of its five brand pillars - Safety & Liability, Total Cost of Ownership, Productivity & Performance, Sustainability & Social Responsibility, and Life & Comfort Enhancing Solutions - Portacool has grown steadily over the past 30 years, continually reinforcing its reputation for industry-leading cooling solutions.
Portacool’s solutions have been successfully applied throughout the agricultural and horticultural, manufacturing, industrial, business, entertainment, sports, home, and hobby industries - “anywhere cooling is needed and traditional air conditioning is impractical or cost prohibitive.”
The company’s sub-brand, Kuul, is Portacool’s answer to the growing need for reliable, sustainable cooling solutions in the data centre sector. Portacool manufactures three series of evaporative media – Kuul Control, Kuul Vitality and Kuul Comfort. Kuul Control is used in data centres, power generation and HVAC systems. Kuul Vitality is utilised primarily in the horticulture, poultry and swine industries. Kuul Comfort is exclusively made for usage in Portacool-branded portable evaporative coolers.
Kuul can help data centre operators lower their PUE dramatically, increasing the environmental sustainability of their facilities significantly as a result of its rigid evaporative media solutions.