Much of the electricity that data centers devour is wasted, finds a report by the NRDC. But improved energy efficiency practices could cut energy waste by at least 40% and save over $3 billion annually.
The study, Scaling up Energy Efficiency across the Data Center Industry: Evaluating Key Drivers and Barriers, takes issue with the nearly 3 million data centers that house 95% of servers. These guzzled an estimated 91 billion kWh of electricity in 2013.
Although the full extent of energy waste is unknown due to inconsistent metrics, key areas of waste typically include:
- Up to 30% of servers are “comatose,” meaning they are still plugged in and consuming electricity even though they are no longer needed.
- uch of the energy is consumed by servers that are operating at 12-18% of capacity.
- In 80% of organizations, the department responsible for data center management is separate from the one paying the electric bills, reducing the likelihood of implementing commonsense efficiency measures.
The report outlines a number of improvement opportunities, such as aligning incentives, developing simple metrics for measuring server utilization, public disclosure of energy and carbon performance, and establishing green leases for multi-tenant data centers.