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Why are data centres so energy intensive?

The amount of data generated on a daily basis continues to grow at such a rate that the exact figure is unknown, according to an ABB article (‘Big Data? Big energy savings more like!’) by HVAC Drives Team Leader Carl Turbitt.

The piece states that, according to the most recent figures (2012), 2.5 quintillion (18 zeros) bytes of data is generated every day around the world. Storing and processing all this information requires vast data centres filled with mainframes and servers, with these halls consuming 100 times the energy of a similarly-sized building on average.

It’s not just the obvious running costs of operating the data-holding and processing systems. All this equipment – not to mention the information stored on it – carries enormous value, while the data must be constantly accessible in order for managers to achieve their industry-standard target of 99.9999 per cent reliability.

The heat generated within data centres means that air handling equipment must run continually to regulate humidity, cool the air and keep it free of dust particles that may clog equipment. HVAC and humidification systems account for one watt of energy for every watt used by information processing and storage equipment and represent a major operating cost.

While there’s no getting away from the need to maintain data centres, with the right expertise and equipment, the cost of doing so can be greatly reduced.

Gibbons Engineering Group has spent many years supplying, installing and maintaining HVAC and humidification systems in data centres for multinational technology companies, combining our ultra-reliable equipment with ABB variable-speed drives to ensure optimum performance and minimal energy use.

For more information on maximising the energy efficiency of data centre air handling systems, call HVAC Services Manager Andrew Knight on 07850 204915 or email

HVAC Services, Humidification, Variable-Speed Drives

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