The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Trend 01
Innovation – Rittal

Energy efficiency still a longrunning issue

Text Stefan Mutschler, Hans-Robert Koch ––– Photography

In 2018, data centres in EU member states consumed 76.8 terawatt-hours of power, equating to around 2.7 per cent of total energy consumption. That was the finding of a study published by the EU Commission at the end of 2020. According to this study, the increase in energy consumption between 2010 and 2018 was nowhere near as high as many had predicted in 2010. The reason cited for this lower energy consumption is the clear progress that has been made in improving energy efficiency. Nonetheless, the study claims that advancing digitalization and particularly the increasing availability of cloud services will cause energy consumption to increase by another 21 per cent to reach 92.6 terawatt-hours by 2025.

While cloud data centres accounted for 10 per cent of the total energy consumption of EU data centres in 2010, the study found this share had grown to 35 per cent by 2018. It is set to rise to around 60 per cent by 2025. This also shows where the biggest growth potential lies for data centres. The proportion of small edge data centres that are needed on-site will also grow considerably in the future. By 2025, edge data centres could account for 12 per cent of I the energy consumption of data centres in the EU.

Enough space for data centre cooling? The Rittal LCP (Liquid Cooling Package) uses external chillers to achieve maximum cooling performance in the smallest of spaces. The advantage is that it frees up more space for active components.

Over recent years, there have been huge improvements in the infrastructure efficiency and PUE (power usage effectiveness) of data centres. However, the potential for further energy efficiency gains is shrinking as the technology approaches its physical limits, and tapping into that potential is becoming an increasingly complex task, too. That is why energy- aware software development will play a key role in the efficiency of cloud computing, primarily when it comes to computing-intensive applications such as blockchain technologies and AI.

All the same, as the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency makes clear, there will still be a range of additional, very effective approaches for curbing the energy consumption of data centres.


  • Effizientere Kühlsysteme
  • Wärmewiederverwendung, zum Beispiel für Fernwärme
  • Virtualisierung von Software, optimale Ausnutzung von Serverkapazitäten
  • Energieeffiziente Zusammenarbeit aller Komponenten
  • Nutzung erneuerbarer Energien zur Versorgung von Rechenzentren
  • Bau von Rechenzentren in Regionen mit kaltem Klima
  • Using cooling systems that are more efficient
  • Reusing heat that is generated, for instance for district heating systems
  • Virtualising software, achieving optimum utilisation of server capacity Ensuring all components work together on an energy-efficient basis
  • Using renewable energy sources to power data centres
  • Building data centres in regions with a cold climate

“In many data centres, cooling still accounts for up to 40 per cent of overall energy consumption. Energyefficient cooling concepts are therefore critical when seeking to run a data centre on an economical and environmentally friendly basis,” explains Michael Nicolai. The primary problem is still the need to dissipate the heat that is generated, which is why there is a strong trend towards indirect free cooling, particularly in combination with adiabatic evaporation cooling (cooling based on the evaporation of water). Air-cooled climate control technology also continues to dominate. In the future, liquid cooling such as chip cooling will be used where air cooling is no longer able to meet the needs associated with high power densities, such as in hyperscalers and colocation data centres.


“In many data centres, cooling still accounts for up to 40 per cent of overall energy consumption.”

Michael Nicolai
Rittal Head of Sales IT Germany

Kühltechnik Bild Rack


“Data centre operators prefer modular solutions they can use to plan and implement an energy-efficient IT infrastructure quickly and flexibly as appropriate to requirements. What they want is scalability,” explains Nicolai. The sales executive is confident that the new, open IT infrastructure platform from Rittal – RiMatrix Next Generation (see page 40) – meets these needs. It can be used to implement air, refrigerant or water- based cooling solutions, and hybrid versions, too. It is suitable for rack, bay and room climate control, as well as direct chip cooling solutions for demanding high-performance computing (HPC) applications. The new platform’s modular concept is rounded off by added cooling versatility for efficient, highprecision climate-control solutions with a free-cooling function and adiabatic technology from Stulz.


A decommissioned mine in Norway is home to the Lefdal Mine Datacenter. Based on a modular overall concept, the data centre is spread over five levels, offers 120,000 square metres of floor space and can potentially co-locate up to 10,000 racks or 1,500 containers. The use of renewable power and seawater cooling ensures exceptional energy efficiency, with a PUE of 1.15. Its electricity is entirely from renewable sources. IT components are cooled by means of water from a nearby fjord. All this ensures that electricity costs are considerably lower than they are at German data centre locations. Tier 3 and ISO classification mean that it fulfils all the security requirements companies today place on data centre and cloud operators.

“Lefdal Mine Datacenter is a core data centre for special applications such as high-performance computing and data storage and is equally ideal for hyperscaler and colocation applications. We anticipate an installed power of 100 megawatts in the next few years,” says Andreas Herden, Chief Sales Officer at Lefdal Mine Datacenter.

Lefdal Mine

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