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The Data Center of the Future: Supporting the Grid

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Jane Marsh's picture

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
  • 106 items added with 82,642 views
  • Mar 13, 2023

Data centers are becoming an increasingly hot topic with the advent of cloud computing. These energy-intensive data stores cause companies to reel over energy costs, and environmentalists wonder how humanity can transition away from data centers for a more sustainable future.

From modular data centers to shared storage, experts are posing solutions frequently to combat adverse environmental effects perpetuating climate change. Data centers could shift by supporting smart grid development using that power well.

Manipulating Data Center Power for Good

Data centers must stay powered. The world’s most vital infrastructure, including the financial and medical sectors, relies on these centers. Even the most minor outage could cause societal distress. Therefore, countless dollars and resources funnel into data centers to keep the lights on and uninterruptable power solutions (UPSs) ready to deploy additional energy to generators in an emergency.

Decentralized utilities are the future, thanks to renewable energy. If buildings generate more power than they need, the grid can redistribute that energy to other structures. The previously wasted power from an always-on data center could empower communities worldwide with clean energy, encouraging sustainable development.

Wasted energy could become a figment of the past if humans reimagine data centers as distributed energy resource (DER) producers by leveraging UPSs and bidirectional energy transmission.

Reducing the Impact of the Tech Sector

While humanity needs more data centers, they can’t continue expending energy at a historic rate. Some data centers use more energy than entire nations because of megacorporations in tech, like Google and Apple. People’s lives depend on their constant operational efficiency, and the environment is taking the hit.

Achieving a data center-interactive grid will require new technology to become the norm in data center construction. UPSs will need grid awareness and connectivity, releasing power when communities need them or switching from main power to UPSs during high-energy times to reduce costs and utility pressure. Smart tech and IoT-connected technologies are essential for pushing this implementation. Therefore, companies building data centers and causing the most environmental stress are at the forefront of researching, testing and investing in these assets.

Some of these technologies could include biofilm in heat-producing tech, decreasing heat by 55%, or hyper-converged construction models with liquid cooling. The possibilities are as limitless as technological imagination.

Benefitting from Data Centers on the Grid

A smart grid relies on connecting to independent power sources. Using analytics and IoT sensors, it can redistribute energy during peak hours to meet demand and redirect it to places that would require it in crises. These technologies reduce carbon emissions in high-impact cities and older neighborhoods relying on antiquated technologies and fossil fuels.

Additionally, it helps transition the population’s mindset about the reliability of renewable energy. Whether solar panels work on a cloudy day or not will become a non-issue if data centers work to supplement short energy supplies.

Using data centers as utility providers will democratize energy distribution, which could better control prices and increase accessibility worldwide, especially to areas struggling to obtain them reasonably. Data centers are energy powerhouses that will reduce outages and increase infrastructure resilience in an increasingly unpredictable global climate.

Energy access will also provide tech companies an additional way to increase profits, encouraging a swifter transition to grid-connected, greener data centers because the setup naturally offsets costs. The incentive motivates companies to commit more honestly to corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and governance objectives.

Forging Greener Data Centers With Grid Connectivity

Data centers that support the grid remove unpredictability from the renewable energy conversation and add access and revenue for communities and businesses. If companies invest in technologies to reinforce these greener aspirations, the 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions from data centers could finally become zero.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 13, 2023

I suspect the spotlight will start to burn brighter on data centers and their energy use in the near future. This is informative as background, thanks Jane!

Jane Marsh's picture
Thank Jane for the Post!
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