America’s data centers are consuming — and wasting — a surprising amount of energy.
>”Our study shows that many small, mid-size, corporate and multi-tenant data centers still waste much of the energy they use. Many of the roughly 12 million U.S. servers spend most of their time doing little or no work, but still drawing significant power — up to 30 percent of servers are “comatose” and no longer needed, while many others are grossly underutilized. However, opportunities abound to reduce energy waste in the data-center industry as a whole. Technology that will improve efficiency exists, but systemic measures are needed to remove the barriers limiting its broad adoption across the industry.
How much energy do data centers use?
The rapid growth of digital content, big data, e-commerce and Internet traffic more than offset energy-efficiency progress, making data centers one of the fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the U.S. economy, and a key driver in the construction of new power plants. If such data centers were a country, they would be the globe’s 12th-largest consumer of electricity, ranking somewhere between Spain and Italy.
In 2013, U.S. data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. That’s the equivalent annual output of 34 large (500-megawatt) coal-fired power plants — enough electricity to power all the households in New York City, twice over, for a year. […]
Fixing the problem
While current technology can improve data center efficiency, we recommend systemic measures to create conditions for best-practices across the data center industry, including:
Adoption of a simple, server-utilization metric. One of the biggest efficiency issues in data centers is underutilization of servers. Adoption of a simple metric, such as the average utilization of the server central processing units (CPUs), is a key step in resolving the energy-consumption issue. […]
Rewarding the right behaviors. Data center operators, service providers and multi-tenant customers should review their internal organizational structures and external contractual arrangements and ensure that incentives are aligned to provide financial rewards for efficiency best practices. […]
Disclosure of data-center energy and carbon performance.Public disclosure is a powerful mechanism for demonstrating leadership and driving behavior change across an entire sector. […]
If just half of the technical savings potential for data-center efficiency that we identify in our report is realized (taking into account market barriers), electricity consumption in U.S. data centers could be cut by as much as 40 percent. […]”<