While data centres are already estimated to be using 1 percent of the world’s electricity, professionals within the industry see modern server facilities as providing an increasingly efficient way to meet the market’s growing thirst for information, according to a panel of experts appearing at Mingtiandi’s APAC Data Centre Forum today.
“The industry is one in which energy efficiency really is aligned with our core operations and helps focus everything we do,” said Chris Street, executive vice president with data centre operator Princeton Digital Group. “If you look at data centres from three phases — design, build and operate — within that construct there’s efficiency programmes and sustainability initiatives that span across the organisation.”
Street and fellow panellists Jeremy Yew, chief operating officer for BDx Data Centres; Andrew Green, senior director for integrated digital solutions with the project and development services team at JLL; and Baker McKenzie partner Ean Mac Pherson, explained how the data centre industry is boosting efficiency of existing facilities, designing greener projects and linking digital infrastructure with solar or wind power.
These three strategies for a greener online future were explored in-depth during the fourth session of the Data Centre Forum on MTD TV, which is sponsored by Yardi and attracted some 280 registrants from around the region.
Green Goals in Sync
According to BDx’s Yew, the economies of scale enabled by professionally managed data centres can cut the energy burden that otherwise would be shouldered by companies operating proprietary servers on-site in their offices.
“That’s basically what we offer on the table and help companies move along in that direction,” he said. “It gives them an option and an opportunity to get on this trend.”
Street, who joined Singapore-based PDG last year, said he didn’t see the goals of expanding his platform’s reach and lowering the carbon footprint as diametrically opposed, adding that his firm works with carbon-conscious stakeholders on a daily basis.
The former Amazon and ST Telemedia exec noted that some Asia Pacific markets have precise green-building standards for data centres, in light of their uniquely energy-dense nature; and that his firm’s key backers like private equity major Warburg Pincus and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan are held accountable by their own investors to make sure PDG remains in step with green goals.
Amazon’s Solar Flair
From his vantage point in one of the world’s biggest electricity markets, Baker McKenzie’s Mac Pherson has seen resource-scarce Japan wrestle with sustainability issues as it rapidly develops a stable of hyperscale data facilities and other digital infrastructure.
“How do data centres access the renewable energy sources in Japan, is probably the big challenge,” he said.
As an example of what form such solutions might take, Mac Pherson pointed to recent reports that Amazon is partnering with Mitsubishi to set up 450 solar power plants to supply electricity to the e-commerce giant’s data centres in Japan.
JLL’s Green expects more of this sort of coordination and direct linkage between data centre projects and renewable energy sources in Asia Pacific next year.
“We see this in other regions of the world,” he said. “It’s not unusual for that to happen in North America or in (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), but to date it’s very rare here in APAC. I just think we’re now at the cusp of what will be a change in the way people look at that investment strategy, and because of the need to develop more green-energy sources, take control of it yourself.”
You can watch the full discussion above.
North Asia Spotlighted
The final session of Mingtiandi’s APAC Data Centre Forum 2021 will focus on the region’s largest market, North Asia.
The discussion of opportunities in Greater China, Korea and Japan on 23 September will feature Bill Gao, BDx’s vice president and CEO for Greater China; Thomas Liu, a partner with Actis who has led the UK fund manager’s data centre investments in Greater China and Korea; and Jabez Tan, head of research at data centre consultancy Structure Research.
The month of October brings Mingtiandi’s Office Strategies Forum 2021, including sessions on the prospects of office investment and innovation in APAC markets.