Data Centre Power Trends 2021 and Beyond
Tue 3 Aug 2021
The market for data centre services is strong and is expected to grow at a fairly fast rate. In the UK, analysts have assessed the data centre market growth rate at 5.5% CAGR per year from 2021-2026. This means that demand for data centre services, already high, will continue to increase.
This growth in demand for data centre services is good news for owners and operators looking to grow their business. However, it is also creating an imperative for companies to evolve their power strategies to accommodate this demand without placing undue pressure on the local power grid, their own infrastructure, or the environment.
Local power grid
Rising demand for data centre services has led new entrants into the industry – and existing businesses to look at expanding services in existing markets and creating footholds in new markets.
This has caused a strain on local infrastructure: either because the local power grid is taxed already, or because data centres are expanding into areas where infrastructure is less developed. In either case, data centres are under pressure to improve power utilization in order to minimize the impact on the local power grid.
An increase in demand means data centre owners and operators consider expansion. But physical expansion is expensive, so many businesses are looking to increase capacity in the existing physical space.
Data centre industry leaders have all adopted green initiatives, making reducing the environmental impact a priority for the next several years. Adding capacity to meet increased demand while still managing environmental impact will continue to be an area of focus for data centre businesses.
Data Centre Power Trends
To cope with these market forces, businesses in the data centre industry are following several different strategies. These data centre power trends include:
Today’s data centre power supply and distribution centres have often grown organically, adapting to changes as needed rather than being created strategically from the start. This has resulted in power supply and distribution that is overly complicated and fragmented, over a large area, making it difficult to perform maintenance and upgrades and locate faults.
Looking to the future, data centre owners and operators will seek to simplify power supply architecture to improve reliability and conversion times. Moreover, a simplified power architecture will allow data centre operators to increase capacity without having to add to the data centre footprint.
Data centres have long been seeking advancements in energy storage: both to improve the reliability of renewables, and to find a reasonable alternative to diesel backup generators. Some advancements have been made, in hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries, to improve energy storage in the data centre. While an industry standard has not yet been decided on, advancements in data centre energy storage are a priority for forward-thinking owners and operators.
Industry leaders have already begun to explore ways to utilize low—cost, natural cooling to reduce the expense of keeping data centre equipment cool, in order to keep it operational. To this end, more data centres are being built in areas where the weather is naturally cooler, underground in former mines, or even underwater. The pressure to cope with rising demand while managing data centre power consumption will lead businesses to continue to explore these options and look to new cooling technologies.
There are many market trends that will affect the data centre industry in the short and long term. These various forces, however, all affect the ways that owners and operators are looking to changing the way that they think about and execute data centre power supply. As data centre businesses design and implement power supply strategies, the ideas of maximizing capacity while minimizing footprint, and lessening the environmental impact to reach green goals, will continue to influence data centre research and development.