Our Commitment to Sustainable Efficiency: A Response to BBC Article “Electricity grids creak as AI demands soar”

Bladeroom Data Centres Sustainable Data Centre Cold Isle Photograph Blue Dark

We recognise the growing concern over the environmental impact of data centres, particularly in terms of energy and water consumption for cooling IT infrastructure. The recent BBC article, ‘Electricity grids creak as AI demands soar’, underscores the urgency of addressing these challenges, and we are proud to be at the forefront of sustainable data centre solutions.

Addressing Inefficiencies in Traditional Data Centres

The article notes: “The world’s data centres are using ever more electricity. In 2022, they gobbled up 460 terawatt hours of electricity, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects this to double in just four years. Data centres could be using a total of 1,000 terawatts hours annually by 2026.”

A surge in use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and the rise of crypto currency has put much greater demand on data centres to facilitate the computer processing required to facilitate them. Demand is anticipated to increase tremendously, putting further pressure on the global data centre network, much of which is populated by data centres that operate inefficiently, utilising a large amount of power to cool the sophisticated IT equipment required for complex generative AI tasks.

Traditional methods of data centre cooling are highly inefficient due to several common issues: reliance on mechanical cooling and inefficient cooling distribution; over-provisioning and underutilisation; poor design with hot and cold aisle inefficiencies; ineffective water-cooled systems; and a lack of advanced monitoring and control systems.

By addressing these inefficiencies through modern design principles, advanced cooling technologies, and effective monitoring and management systems, newer data centres can significantly reduce their power and water usage while maintaining high levels of performance and reliability.

Our Innovative Approach

A silver bullet for this problem does not exist – data centres require a lot of power to operate their IT equipment and more again for cooling other ancillary systems to keep them operational. That being said, the BladeRoom system offers the best way to ensure the power used for cooling and ancillary systems is as low as possible.

We set the standard for data centre cooling with cutting-edge technology and design principles. Our data centres feature innovative technology designed around three core operational principles: extract the maximum amount of heat from the IT, minimise the use of mechanical cooling, and maximise the use of free air for server cooling.

Operational Efficiency

The operational efficiency of BladeRoom Data Centres means we use less power and water than other data centres, resulting in industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE). By eliminating mechanical cooling and refrigerants, we significantly reduce the power required for cooling. Additionally, we store and treat rainwater to avoid the use of potable water.

Advanced Cooling Systems

Our data centres utilise a highly advanced direct air-cooling system. Coupled with our innovative, patented cooling control system called ‘Match Technology,’ we offer a proven solution that dramatically reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions. Unlike traditional cooling methods that recirculate cool and hot air from IT equipment, a BladeRoom data centre draws in highly filtered fresh air, matches air supply to IT demand, and exhausts or partially recirculates warm air as needed.

Exceptional Power Efficiency

A BladeRoom data centre can operate at an annualised PUE of 1.04, meaning less than 4% of the total energy powers the entire data centre. This is over ten times more efficient than the industry average. For a 100MW BladeRoom campus in the UK, this efficiency results in annual carbon emission savings of up to 100,000 tonnes.

Outstanding Water Efficiency

The Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact targets a WUE of 0.4 L/kWh by 2025. Our data centres already achieve an impressive 0.0015 L/kWh, allowing one of our UK data centres to operate for a year using 34,000 times less water than the average person.

Sustainable Design, Materials and Construction

Our ‘fabric first’ design approach ensures mission-critical infrastructure with industry-leading thermal transmittance and air permeability performance, reducing heating and cooling requirements. We use steel with at least 25% recycled content for our superstructures, sourced from local fabricators to minimise transport emissions. Our insulation and flooring contain recycled materials and are themselves recyclable, ensuring a sustainable lifecycle for all our facilities.

We create the most sustainable data centres in the world and do so more efficiently than anyone else, both in speed and waste reduction, by maximising off-site construction. Off-site construction offers a more sustainable alternative to site-based construction and provides a more resource-efficient way to produce greener data centres. With up to 90% of the construction process completed in our controlled manufacturing environment, we can recycle more materials, reduce waste, and construct more sustainable buildings. By transferring the majority of construction processes and activities to our factory, we significantly reduce the logistical requirements of each project, thereby keeping transportation emissions to a minimum.

Commitment to Innovation and Improvement

“Data centres can also play a key role in decarbonising Europe’s energy system by enabling the development of new renewable energy on the electric grid, providing carbon-free system services to the grid, and supporting heat recovery and reuse where possible and practical. Moreover, by operating in a manner that uses resources most efficiently and sustainably, we are confident that we can support a shared digital and climate-neutral future.” – Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact.

The significant reductions in carbon footprint we achieve today are a result of our 12-year commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. As an industry, we are on a crucial journey to find a more sustainable and responsible digital future. Our mission is to make that a reality by continuing to find ways of using power and water more efficiently whilst pioneering our off-site manufacturing methodology to create even greener data centres in the most sustainable way.