SEA: does data centre growth equal sustainability?
Industry experts believe South East Asia is becoming one of the fastest-growing data centre hubs globally, with providers keen to fulfil demands expected by tech-centric enterprises.
Data supplied by Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm, suggests the market could be worth US$3.4 billion by 2024.
But while other regions are focussing on the sustainability of facilities, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region’s environmental policies remain a work in progress.
According to a survey carried out by , Asia Pacific’s leading media organisation on sustainable development, 66% of respondents said greater sustainability and energy efficiency were important considerations when selecting data centre providers.
However, the report, which involved 208 digital reality enterprises across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, also found that a lack of environmental awareness, capital, and cooperation from stakeholders is obstructing an industry-wide drive to create sustainable data facilities. Those concerns were also considered less important than reliability, security, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and network connectivity.
The findings are at odds with other sectors of the industry that are investing heavily in sustainability. Leading tech companies including Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, are all ensuring their latest facilities comply with international climate agreements that utilise low-cost renewable energy, natural cooling systems and have low to zero-emissions targets.
Cooling systems require an estimated 40% of the total power required to run a data centre effectively. Many companies choose facilities in colder climates for this exact reason. Energy-efficient cooling technologies and processes like liquid cooling represent an important opportunity for data centre providers to lower energy use and expense.
Increasingly, clients globally are demanding higher standards of sustainability, with ambitious carbon-neutral footprints as more advanced energy-efficient technology is developed. Data showed 89% of respondents believed sustainability would be an essential consideration when selecting data centre services in 2025.
, managing director of Eco-Business, which conducted the study on behalf of Digital Realty, explained, “Southeast Asia is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and its rapid development will accelerate the demand for data services.”
She added, “Against this backdrop, it is crucial that data centre providers find a way to meet this need while ensuring they are playing a part in helping countries meet their climate targets,” said Cheam.
Digital Realty’s senior director of sustainability, Aaron Binkley, agreed, commenting, “It is encouraging to see that most customers in the region view sustainability as a key consideration when choosing a data centre provider. We believe cooling technology will be a game-changer for data centres, especially in Southeast Asia’s tropical climate.”
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.