Building a green data centre in Singapore

24 August 2017

Awareness of the need to go green is growing around the world. Despite slow progress in some areas such as electric vehicles, there is no question that countries and businesses are coming around and recognizing the importance of minimizing the environmental impact of human industry on the planet.

It is for this reason that a growing number of large enterprises have made environmental pledges. This could entail investing in ways to reduce their carbon footprint, or stipulating that they work only with vendors and partners that are making a serious effort to be environmentally conscious.


Green in Singapore

When it comes to reducing one’s carbon footprint, the most well-known approach would probably be to tap into renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and hydroelectricity. Yet this route can be challenging or downright impossible in Singapore, considering the lack of land for the deployment of solar panels or wind turbines.

Of course, the use of new innovations and out-of-the-box thinking can yield solutions in unexpected places. For instance, the Singapore government last year launched the world’s largest floating solar energy test-bed to examine the effectiveness of different solar photovoltaic systems. The idea revolves around utilizing an unused aspect of reservoirs – its surface area, to deploy solar panels. And considering that reservoirs make up two thirds of the surface area of Singapore, this approach that could pay huge dividends.

Aside from tapping into green sources of energy, other viable strategies may be the use of Novec 1230 gas with its ozone depletion potential instead of the more commonly used FM 200 for fire suppression systems, and minimizing the use of existing resources. The latter include reducing the power consumption of data centres, and makes sense when one considers that data centres currently consumes about 7% of Singapore’s electricity.

Moreover, the urgency of doing more with less is exacerbated by the recently announced hike in the price of water, which was adjusted to better reflect the increased cost of production. This is of concern as modern data centres do use a significant amount of water for cooling the building and the racks of computing hardware.


Efficient use of resources

But what can data centres do to utilize resources more effectively? At Telin Singapore, we believe that every little bit that we do matters, leading us to place a great emphasis on minimizing wastage. Indeed, this focus has been deliberately engineered from the design stage of our new Telin-3 data centre, which went live in November 2016.

For a start, Telin-3 makes use of reclaimed water (NEWater) that is piped in from PUB. In addition, specially installed equipment on the rooftop collects rainwater for reuse within the facility, allowing for a slight reduction in water consumption during rainy seasons.

Elsewhere, the use of cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) enabled sensors and controllers help keep non-IT electrical consumption to a minimum. For example, lighting can be centrally adjusted from full brightness across the entire facility to 25% or lower depending on the time of the day, or whether there are visitors or maintenance work being conducted. (You can read more about Telin-3’s use of IoT here)

When it comes to ensuring reliable power, Telin-3 employs the use of DRUPS (Diesel Rotary Uninterruptible Power Supply) in place of lead-acid batteries-based UPS for backup power. During an outage, the latter is traditionally used to bridge the power gap for the brief timespan it takes for diesel backup generators to kick in. While comparatively cheaper, the batteries must be periodically replaced, resulting in large quantities of toxic used batteries making its way into landfills.

On its part, DRUPS leverages the use of kinetic energy stored within a dynamic flywheel, delivering the same functionality with none of the pollution. Moreover, they also take up less space than an equivalent stack of batteries and their associated conditioning and fire suppression equipment, allowing the space to be better utilized for housing more servers or other data centre equipment.


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