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Walking the data centre tightrope

Data centres are voracious energy consumers, and this has serious repercussions in terms of both cost and potential damage to the environment.

The world’s biggest data centres demand over 100 megawatts of power, enough to satisfy the needs of 80,000 homes, according to energy and climate policy think tank Energy Innovation.

And research organisation SINTEF reveals that: “[Data centres] already use more than 2% of the world’s electricity and contribute to 2% of world’s CO2 emissions. That’s equivalent to the world’s entire airline industry.”

This flies in the face of the European Green Deal’s target to make data centres climate neutral by 2030.

Nonetheless, data centres are here to stay. One of the most critical facets of any successful organisation is business continuity and data centres help with this. Indeed, they are critical to the smooth operation of the modern world, storing and processing digital information as well as pumping out data to run functions from banking to streaming services and cloud services to communications systems.

So, a balance needs to be struck between the functional effectiveness of these ubiquitous facilities and their energy efficiency. This involves controlling energy costs without impacting the delivery of the critical IT services the organisation demands.

Measures to improve the energy efficiency of an existing data centre might include the use variable speed fans in air conditioners, refurbishment of air handling units (AHUs), and better management of existing equipment and services to make them more efficient (for example, turn off idle equipment).

Big picture initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in data centres, meanwhile, include the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard, ASHRAE 90.4: 2016 – updated in 2019 – which sets out the minimum energy efficiency requirements for data centres and includes recommendations on their design, construction, operation, and maintenance, as well as on the use of on- and off-site renewable energy.

Standard 90.4 offers a framework for the energy efficient design of data centres with special consideration to their unique load requirements compared to other buildings. The standard was developed under the guiding principle that data centres are mission critical facilities demanding careful attention to the potential impact of its requirements.

But there are also simpler yet equally effective ways to boost the energy performance of the cooling in data centres.

One example is ECEX Air Intake Screens. These ingenious devices prevent airborne debris from entering the air intake system by collecting it to enable removal by on-site engineers.

ECEX Air Intake screens are long-lasting, made-to-measure external protection filters made from a unique, heavy-duty vinyl-coated mesh which traps airborne debris before it can enter and clog condenser coils and air intakes.

Traditional pressure washing and chemical cleaning is costly, time-consuming, and potentially damaging to delicate coil fins. ECEX Air Intake screens stop debris where it is immediately visible and can be simply quickly removed using a soft brush, portable vacuum cleaner or garden hose.

Air Intake screens are easy to measure, install and clean. Installation can be performed by an experienced ECEX site team or by your own personnel. And, all intake screens are made to order to ensure a perfect fit so awkward shapes or cut-outs around obstructions such as pipes are no problem.

Air Intake screens can be fitted to protect every type of HVAC plant including chillers, AHU and intake louvres, condensing units and cooling towers.

For more information about our ventilation services, click here.






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Air Handling & Ventilation Services