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State of Indian Data center market and Business need for sustainable practices

DC Industry on the uprise


Indian Data Centre space is one of the fastest growing infrastructure segments globally. It is predicted that up to 5GW of additional installed capacity will be needed to come online to cater to the ever-increasing data needs of Indian diaspora. These figures should come as no surprise; with a predicted annual GDP growth rate of 7 %, a strong network infrastructure will be more than critical to cater to domestic data demand primarily driven by growing middle class data consumption and increasing shift of domestic enterprise applications to the cloud.



Key pieces are in place


The real estate industry has been quick to understand the business potential of this tech-driven sector, generating ~15 percent and above rental yield annually, significantly greater than any other commercial estate asset class. This has resulted in multiple billion-dollar investments being committed by top players. Government policies have also been very conducive - incorporating data centers under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), creating Data Centre Facilitation Units (DCFU), Data Centre Economic Zones, and creating a special category code for data centers under the National Building Code of India have all aided this market. As a result, DCs are expected to come up not only in tier 1 locations like Mumbai and Chennai, but also in more than 30 tier 2 locations across the country within the next 5-6 years. 


Understanding the Impact of Scale


The nature of Data center buildouts is also changing significantly. Pre-covid, typical large DC capacity was of the order of 5MW to 10MW. Currently, this order has increased significantly, and we see integrated DC campuses being set up with planned IT capacity of ~20MW to 200MW. Such a scale puts further stress on key resources like land, power, water and capital and the need to be efficient in DC design and DC operations comes to the spotlight. 


Need for Resource Efficiency


In 2022, energy consumption by all data centers combined was estimated to be ~1.7% of total global energy demand or 2% of global GHG emissions. This puts the sector’s carbon footprint at par with aviation industry’s emissions from fuel. The energy demand for the sector is forecasted to further reach 8% by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. If the computationally intensive cryptocurrency and Artificial Intelligence applications continue to grow, a sharp rise in energy demand could come sooner rather than later.

In addition to energy, Data centers are also heavily reliant on potable water for their cooling systems, humidification systems and facility maintenance. It is estimated that a medium-sized data center (15 megawatts (MW)) uses as much water as three average-sized hospitals, or more than two 18-hole golf courses. In the context of India, where both water and energy are in short supply, an inefficient data center is a burden on society that we simply cannot afford.

Plus, data centers consume a significant amount of land area to operate effectively. Direct DC land usage also includes provisioning for chiller plants, diesel generator sets, battery units and HVAC units necessary for operating a Data center seamlessly. Indirect land usage exists through Electronics Waste and Data centers related Wastes and Effluents that are responsible for about 55% of the heavy metals that end up in US landfills. 

Given this context, it is easy to see the need for mandating sustainable practices while building and operating next generation data centers. As Indian DC ecosystem expands, it will be important to balance need for material intensive resources during build-out with resource efficient operations and responsible disposal.

Delivering on the Sustainability Agenda


Cutting back our thirst for data might be the ultimate way to prevent energy use powering the Data center revolution. But it’s hard to see anyone agreeing to, say, limit their OTT use, which accounts for more than one-third of Internet traffic in the country. As such, incorporating circularity principles and green philosophy in data center site selection, DC design and DC operations is the only way to address issues of carbon neutrality. 

During the design phase, there are several levers that can be exploited to improve energy, power and land efficiency. These include intelligent physical layout, power infrastructure incorporating renewable energy, and alternative and green infrastructure design approaches towards data center cooling plant. 

Regular assessment of DC infrastructure health, monitoring sustainability metrics like power usage efficiency (PUE) & water usage efficiency (WUE) is key to sustainable operations. In addition, recommendations by green building councils like LEED and India Green Building Council (IGBC) for Data center operations should be considered and monitored. 


Why select Technavious as your Sustainability Partner


With a specialized DC professionals’ team and ability to design, engineer and commission data centers, Technavious is committed to the science of sustainability and green design. For eg. we leverage Building Information Management (BIM) system to analyze and model power and cooling requirements in different part of your data center. This leads to better planning of DC white space and deploying the right cooling solutions that minimize carbon footprint and operational costs. 

Our partnership with different HVAC, cooling systems and waterless liquid cooling system technology partners helps design systems which minimize cooling requirements and save a lot of water. Eg. state-of-art liquid cooling infrastructure based on a dielectric, two-phase direct-on-chip system can significantly improve computing efficiency, heat re-use, and need for lower ambient temperatures.

Similarly, an efficient structured cabling strategy paired with application centric rack and chassis selection can help your data center optimize power consumption, ease infrastructure management, and reduce operational costs.

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