HyperScale Data Centers Featured Article

Data Centers Face Water Consumption Issues

April 26, 2017

The massive and monolithic infrastructures that are today's data centers look benign enough when seen from afar, but it takes an enormous amount of resources to keep them humming. Until now, one of the pressing issues for data centers was the consumption of electricity, and while the industry as a whole has been building facilities that are more eco-friendly and use less power, water usage is increasing. As reported by Maria Gallucci on Mashable, Google's data center in South Carolina is facing such a problem because its facility is in Berkeley County.

Water is an essential feature in today's hyper- scale data centers, and according to Gallucci, Google currently uses 4 million gallons of surface water per day, but it wants to draw another 1.5 million gallons per day from an aquifer.

The issue of water consumption by data centers is of great concern, especially in states that are facing drought or historically have faced shortages. But the problem will affect everyone as populations increase and hyper-scale data centers become more common.

Bloomberg's Justin Morton reported on the same problem with drought prone states, more specifically California, which has more data centers than any other state in the country. According to the report, Google declined to say how much water the company's data centers use, but it pointed out that it has designed data centers that use air instead of water for cooling and it deploys new cooling technology on average about every 12 to 18 months.

Morton said Facebook's data center in Prineville, Oregon is competing with farmers and a growing local population, while the facility eBay runs in

Image via BigStock

Salt Lake City is using increasing amounts of water in a state that is in the sixth year of a drought as of the report.

As a whole, the industry consumed 165 billion gallons or 626 billion liters of water, and that number is expected to go up to 174 billion gallons or 660 billion liters by 2020, this according to the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Data center operators and large tech firms have made some noteworthy improvements to address the negative perception consumers have regarding the environmental impact of the industry. Gallucci also reports Salesforce has managed to achieve, “Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its direct operations, and a ‘carbon-neutral cloud’ for all its customers.” The company designed energy-efficient data centers and buildings, purchased credits from clean energy projects to offset its remaining fossil fuel use and wind power systems. This addresses the issue of power consumption, now the industry has to do the same for water.

Edited by Alicia Young

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