Cheap US energy sparks datacentre rethink

Cheaper electricity could power a wave of new datacentres in the US to the detriment of costly Europe.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor

Low energy costs are making the US a more attractive location for new datacentres than Europe, where power prices have soared over the past decade.

The gap in electricity costs between the US and Europe could amount to a $500,000 saving per year over a 2MW datacentre in the UK with a 50 percent baseload energy consumption — and $750,000 for one in Germany, according to a new report.

While shale gas has kept energy prices consistently low in the US, electricity costs have risen significantly in Europe, where charges in countries such as Germany are double their American equivalents, the report from analyst firm 451 Research said.

Lifetime datacentre costs

When organisations calculate the lifetime cost of a datacentre, overheads associated with power can be a significant factor.

Over a 15-year lifespan, a price of $0.067/kWh or £0.045/kWh accounts for 30 percent of a facility's operating expense and between 10 and 15 percent of the total cost of building and running it, the report said.

"This figure is large enough to sway decisions about where a datacentre should be built," wrote report co-author Andy Lawrence, research vice president, datacentre technologies and eco-efficient IT.

But the lower cost of US electricity could slow the adoption of greener datacentre technologies.

"The growth of US datacentre activity and investment will boost the market for equipment of all kinds but may limit demand for certain energy-efficient datacentre technologies, especially where there is a trade-off with risk and availability," Lawrence said.

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