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City of Beijing issues ban on high PUE data centres

Thu 25 Aug 2016

China data center

The City of Beijing has issued a ban on data centres with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.5 or higher, as China begins a push for green data centre solutions.

While a nationwide standard for data centre efficiency has yet to be finalized, some companies have already been forced to relocate outside the city based on these restrictions, while others are working hard to improve efficiency and explore renewable energy solutions.

He Chunhua, the secretary-general of the China Green Data Center Advancing Federation said, “Chinese data centre players in recent years have begun to take energy conservation seriously.” Dozens of companies have joined her group already.

Last year, the Chinese Ministry for Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) began a pilot program for green data centres. Today, this program has over 80 participants ranging from Chinese banks and telecommunications firms to the state-run prison system in Harbin.

The average US data centre operates at a PUE of 1.9, although the most efficient are able to achieve a rating of 1.3. In contrast, estimates place the majority of Chinese data centers with an average PUE rating of 2.2-3.  The total power consumed by Chinese data centres in 2014 was estimated to be 2.4% of the entire nation’s total output. In other nations, data centre operators are exploring environmentally conscious solutions to the problems of energy consumption and water used for cooling data centres.

Google has deployed AI technology to find opportunities to reduce cooling expenses. Facebook’s Irish data centre was designed using 100% renewable energy in the form of wind power. Many of China’s data centres, however, are powered by the electrical grid and in China, that electricity often comes from coal, which means that data centres add greatly to the existing pollution problems in the country.

Some companies, however, have already begun successful programs for greening data centres in China. The e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s cloud computing arm, AliCloud, set up an energy-efficient data centre in the Zhejiang Province that uses solar panels, smart heating and cooling systems, and recycled water from a nearby lake for energy-efficient cooling. The company said that not only have they created the most energy-efficient data centre in China, but in the world.


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