Taking steps towards meeting the legal challenge of carbon reduction within data centres in a sensible, cost effective and sustainable manner.
In April 2010, many organisations will find that they fall under the UK's new Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation (now known as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme). With IT constituting a large part of many organisations' energy usage, a well thought out, measurable and actionable approach to data centre power management can bring major benefits visible at the bottom line. The UK's CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (previously known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)) is expected to impact 5,000 organisations in the first instance - but is likely to draw more into its net as time progresses. Planning now to create a better optimised data centre can help in many ways - from minimising CRC bills to moving an organisation under the limit where CRC kicks in.
- Intensive energy users have had to deal with energy saving incentives for some time - now it's the less intensive users' turn The European Union's Energy Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has set targets with incentives and penalties around energy savings. From April 2010, UK organisations in less energy intensive sectors will be subject to similar targets through the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.
- The data centre can constitute a large proportion of a low-energy intensive organisation's energy usage. The main energy usage in "high energy intensive" organisations comes through core business such as metal smelting or oil refining. For "low energy intensive" organisations, however, the data centre can easily be the highest energy user. This will bring a direct business focus on the data centre's energy usage.
- The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) can provide solid pay back Provided that an organisation sets reasonable targets and fulfils them, the CRC can provide a good return on investment through the pay back on allowances bought but not used at the beginning of the year. As trading of allowances takes off, further benefits can be accrued.
- The dynamics of the CRC means that long term plans are necessary The CRC uses a "league table" of performance, meaning that only those demonstrating the best energy savings against agreed targets will gain the largest benefits. Although very quick wins may be available in the first year, CRC planning should look to the long term, enabling the benefits to be gained year on year.
- A solid knowledge of the assets and actual workings of the data centre are required Without full knowledge of what there is in the data centre and how it is using energy at the moment, creating a valid future state view becomes pure guesswork. Data centre modelling, enabling "what if?" predictions and real usage reporting, provides the platform for creating an ongoing sustainable model to maximise the possible benefits of the CRC.
- The CRC is a starting point, and its net is likely to widen Although those organisations that are affected by the start of the CRC regulations will already have been informed of what is required of them, it is highly likely that the UK Government will need to extend the scheme to meet its carbon emission reduction targets. By starting to put in place the tools required to best understand the data centre environment, organisations can plan to minimise any impact from changes to the CRC in the future.
The CRC will have a large impact on those organisations caught in its net, and it is likely that this net will widen in the medium term. Quocirca recommends that organisations look to implement an automated means of measuring, monitoring and modelling their data centres, so that suitable plans for sustainable energy savings can be made on an on-going basis.
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