Conferences and Forums
Renewable Energy Options for Data Centers
by Liang Xi Downey
Nextek Power Systems
Rosemarie Szostak, Ph.D.
Paying The Price Of Rising Energy Costs
We have finally reached a point where energy costs have overtaken real estate costs as the primary data center expense. Server density has increased tenfold over the past decade, and the average server's power consumption has quadrupled. A typical data center can easily consume anywhere between 1megawatt (MW) and 20MW of electricity. And, for every dollar an enterprise spends on computing hardware, an additional 50 cents is spent on powering and cooling this hardware. At these levels it is not just the cost of energy, but the stability of that cost that proves worriesome for data center managers everywhere.
The trend in average electricity prices in the U.S. is shown below in Figure 1. From 2004 to 2008 average electricity prices rose from 7.3 cents to 9.6 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). Even seasonal changes in the price of electricity range by as much as one cent per kwh, which translates to an average of $8-17 million in additional costs to users.