Chindata pledges carbon neutrality by 2030
This self-described moonshot will see Chindata commit to investing in clean energy in China, targeting a total installed capacity of more than 2GW by 2030. All of the company’s hyperscale facilities will be powered by 100% renewable energy by the end of the decade.
The company has already signed renewable energy contracts with local governments in Datong and Zhangjiakou totalling more than 1,300MW of installed capacity.
In 2019, Chindata - which purports to take proximity to renewable sources like solar and wind power into serious consideration when selecting new sites for construction - achieved a renewable energy mix of 37% across its portfolio.
In order to get that number up, Chindata will not only be working to support the growth of renewable power generation in China (as well as India and Malaysia, where the company also operates several hyperscale facilities) but also taking steps to increase the efficiency of its existing and planned infrastructure.
Also in 2019, Chindata used a combination of “advances in green technology in green building, IT equipment, and cooling systems” to achieve an average annual PUE of 1.21, around 27.5% lower than the industry average of 1.67 for data centres with higher than 20MW of IT load capacity.
The facility, located in the city of Datong, in the northern province of Shanxi, has a total IT load capacity of 50MW, making it the largest single building data centre in the region. The site handles hyperscale cloud and high performance computing workloads, and is reportedly taking full advantage of local renewable energy resources.
"The company should seize opportunities to make full use of the integration of data centres and renewable energy to turn Datong's advantage in energy to the advantage in strategic newly emerged industries," commented Zhang Jifu, secretary of the Datong municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Chindata - which is financially backed by Bain Capital - issued an IPO on the US stock market, raising $540mn in October of 2020. The company was originally spun up in 2019, when Bain Capital merged together Bridge Data Centres and Chindata.
While the new Chindata facility may be APAC's largest data centre for now, ongoing hyperscale projects by companies like AirTrunk - which is building a 300MW facility in Tokyo - and Facebook may well see its supremacy be shortlived.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.