Thought Leadership

The 2030 Data Centre - Are You Future-proofed?

05 Jan 2024

10 minutes to read


The DCA Data Centre Transformation 2023 conference in Birmingham served as a pivotal platform for RED Engineering Design's workshop on the future of data centres. Facilitated by industry experts Phil Beale, Director of RED ICT, and Phil Reid, Head of Energy Transition, the interactive sessions engaged over 150 professionals, fostering insightful discussions on the evolving data centre landscape.

Transformation Themes at DCA Data Centre Transformation 2023

The workshops, centred around key themes of Energy and Technology, encouraged participants to envision the data centre landscape in 2030. The collective goal was to anticipate and proactively address challenges that may shape the industry over the next seven years.

Insights Unveiled: Workshop Findings Summary

Divided into Evolution, Drivers, and Innovation, the workshop findings coalesced into transformation trends that will redefine the data centre paradigm.

Evolution: Unlocking the Potential of Heat Dissipation

A recurring theme was the untapped potential of wasted heat dissipation from data centres. The industry expressed a unanimous concern about the missed opportunity to capture, store, and distribute this excess heat for the benefit of the environment. RED suggested exploring business-to-consumer district heating systems as a solution, emphasizing the importance of heat mapping for a detailed techno-economic study.

The move towards on-site power generation capacity emerged as a key trend. Data centre developers and operators are increasingly investing in autonomous power generation to lower costs and reduce carbon footprints. The focus is on active and dynamic power generation to augment national infrastructures, driven by both grid requirements and the industry's pursuit of cost-effective, low-carbon power solutions.

Drivers: Overcoming Challenges for Sustainable Growth

Aging power infrastructure demands upgrades, and new government energy policies are needed to incentivise investment in decentralised and decarbonised electricity generation systems. RED emphasised the importance of understanding the embedded carbon in data centre construction and proposed a measure for projected CO2 emissions based on detailed designs. The reduction of embodied carbon, waste mitigation, and recycling are pivotal investment considerations.

Innovation: A Call for Technological Advancements

The industry urged technology manufacturers to significantly reduce power requirements. Phil Beale stressed the importance of designing more efficient software to curb the relentless rise in energy consumption. RED called for a focus on continuous improvement in MEP design, with an emphasis on reducing annual PUE and specifying more efficient components in power and cooling systems.

Transformation Trends: Technology

Evolution: Advancements in High-Performance Computing (HPCs)

Accelerating the evolution of High-Performance Computing (HPCs) for energy efficiency and implementing more space-efficient containment systems were identified as crucial steps. RED anticipates the adoption of technologies like liquid oxygen CHP, immersion cooling, and seawater heat exchange for improved heat and power management in high-density computational systems.

Drivers: The Impact of Emerging Technologies

The advent of 5G technology to support data-intensive applications, such as transport automation, will drive Edge Computing. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a pivotal role in the distribution of geographically diverse cloud applications, influencing computational capacity and big data storage resources. Machine learning applications, like Google DeepMind, will reshape assumptions about data centre space, accommodation, and energy provision.

Innovation: Transformative Technological Breakthroughs

Advances in chip-set design to increase processing capacity without adding power load, Quantum computing's potential to revolutionise computing power, and the imperative for suppliers to deliver solutions operating at higher temperatures were highlighted. The call for intelligent network monitoring and management applications for enhanced CPU resource utilization and AI-powered systems to identify and power-down idle equipment resonated throughout the discussions.

Conclusion: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future

The journey towards the 2030 data centre requires a collective commitment to sustainability, efficiency, and innovation. RED Engineering Design, through its thought leadership at the DCA Data Centre Transformation 2023 conference, is actively steering the industry towards a future where data centres are not just efficient but also environmentally conscious, embracing cutting-edge technologies to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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