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Joel Kaerkkaeinen: What approaches should organisations take to cope with the explosion of data as Digital Transformation takes hold?

Written by Joel Kaerkkaeinen, Product Manager at Eaton

BT recently reported a 35% to 60% increase in daytime weekday fixed broadband usage, caused by the widespread shift to remote working. This has coincided with the European launch of commercial 5G services which will inevitably lead to more internet-connected devices and an explosion of data across all sectors.

Data centres are central to the handling all of the data that facilitates our digitally-led lives, but with this comes concern about their growing impact on the environment. Statistics on data centre energy consumption can be staggering and it is important to question whether the insatiable desire for social media and all things digital is creating an environmental villain. They are responsible for approximately 3 per cent of global energy use and as we saw from BT, this is only going to rise as our reliance on data increases due to current movement restrictions. Data centre owners in particular should be considering how to take a greener approach to their operations in order to counter the environmental impacts of this surge in data.

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) technology is one such method of handling the extra strain of higher data usage as the solution helps facilitate increased renewable energy adoption on the grid. Increasingly, the UK is turning to renewable sources of energy and last month marked Britain’s first coal-free month since the industrial revolution – a phenomenal achievement given that renewable energy is volatile by nature and therefore harder to factor into the energy grid. The fact we cannot rely on the sun or wind as the only source of electricity to heat our homes in the winter means we still need a certain amount of fossil fuels to keep the grid stable, especially as more renewables are introduced.

UPS systems help to tackle issues related to low inertia by providing system (ancillary) services which in turn help to increase the penetration of renewables on the grid when there is more wind and sun. This means we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to counter the variability of renewable energy sources and therefore allow the entire grid to become greener even as the amount of data usage increases.

Aside from the green benefits of adopting this approach, UPS devices can also generate monetary value for data centres. Major deployments can be financially compensated for immediate adjustments to power consumption that help to stabilise the grid and reduce power outages, without compromising their service-levels. Increasing the portion of renewable supply to the grid while reducing power failure puts data centres in a critical position to help organisations benefit from the uptake in data usage that is expected in the coming years.