Singapore data centers relatively power inefficient, despite awareness

The country's average power usage effectiveness (PUE) for datacenters is relatively high, not helped by the presence of older facilities and its hotter weather conditions, according to Schneider Electric.

Singapore is not doing enough to reduce power consumption in data centers, despite the awareness needed to do so, according to executives from Schneider Electric.

Gay Chi Sen, director of data center infrastructure management solutions for Schneider Electric Japan and Greater China, noted Singapore facilities have an average power usage effectiveness (PUE) at 2.6, which exceeds the Green Mark for Data Center 's ceiling of PUE 2.2.

Singapore has high data center power usage due to the presence of old data centers than consume more energy and hot climate drives higher amount of cooling power consumption.

The PUE is a ratio of the total power going into the data center divided by the power used by IT, so the bigger the number the greater the power usage, Gay explained, in an interview with ZDNet on Thursday. He noted Singapore's figure was relatively high, compared to Australia and Japan at 2.2 each and Japan at 2.4.

Singapore's PUE is relatively high because it is very mature in terms of technologies used, compared to emerging countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, and hence has older data centers, Joycelyn Longue, business development manager of enterprise IT Business at Schneider Electric Singapore, observed.

These older data centers consume more power as they need to keep up with new technologies pushing the PUE figures higher, Longue explained. In contrast, newer facilities such as those by Equinix, NTT Singapore, and Abbott Laboratories have qualified for the Green Mark.

Singapore has had a "data center boom" over the past two years, due to the government's Intelligent Nation 2015 plan , Longue added. The country has placed a lot of dependency on IT and has invited many multi-national corporations to host their data centers in Singapore, she explained.

"The plans to use Singapore as an IT hub has put increased usage on energy on data centers," Longue said.

APAC driven by government regulations

Within Asia as a whole, many companies are driven by government initiatives when it comes to ensuring their data center is running efficiently, Gay pointed out.

While this is a "good sign" as the government is taking initiative with high power consumptions and rural populations migrating to the cities, regulations can only do so much to ensure companies are running data centers efficiently, he noted.

Most government regulations serve to incentivize companies instead of penalizing them for not running data centers efficiently, he explained. There are exceptions though, Australia for example has a carbon tax whcih penalizes companies for emitting carbon, he pointed out. 

Southeast Asia should focus on reducing cooling consumption

Unlike areas with cool temperatures, the Southeast Asia region is also not able to enjoy the concept of free cooling, where natural cool air is used to cool down data centers, Gay noted.

That said, it does not mean cooler countries have an advantage over warmer climates such as Southeast Asia, Gay pointed out, noting free cooling brings about its own set of challenges such as quality of air being unsuitable for cooling.

Moving forward, data centers in the region should understand their cooling requirements at all levels in the data center such as within racks and servers, he noted.

Other than focusing on cooling power consumption, companies can also take other precautions to reduce power consumption such as removing unutilized servers in data centers and identify available capacities in the data centers that are not being realized.