Data Centre Energy Costs Analyzed in Light of New Carbon Tax

Today, Australians are continuing to figure out how the new Carbon Tax will affect them. This new tax, which the government refers to as the "Carbon Pricing Scheme," has already raised the power bills paid by many of us. Although this isn’t always a concern for households, as some are eligible for government assistance, businesses don’t have that helping hand. As a result, many companies are starting to look harder at ways to improve their energy efficiency.

HP ProLiant DL380 G7 Server

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How the Carbon Tax Affects the IT Industry

The IT industry uses quite a bit of power already, and it’s continuing to expand. According to the environmental group Greenpeace, the IT sector’s energy consumption is set to grow by more than three times by the year 2020. These numbers help to put things in perspective, but looking at some concrete numbers makes this impact easier to understand. Here’s a look at how much energy is consumed by one of the most popular servers used by IT companies today. It’s the HP Proliant DL380 G7, and for this example we’ll assume that it has two quad core processors, two sticks of DDR-3 ram, two hard drives and two power supply units:

The HP Proliant DL380 G7 uses 256 watts, which translates to four cents per hour at the rate of 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Although that might not sound too significant, it does add up to a whopping $350 over the course of a year. In addition, any server will put off quite a bit of heat that requires big fans for cooling. Even with fans, however, servers release a fair amount of heat into the surrounding air. In an office building, this translates to using the same amount of energy as the server, and sometimes more, just to counteract the heat. At this point, you’re looking at a total of $700 to run the server for a year.

Adding in Carbon Tax Costs

For the example above, the Carbon Tax would require paying $84 at the tax rate of 12 percent. That pushes the total to $784 for annual usage of the server. Since most businesses use more than a single server, they’re going to spend much more to run servers each year. A computer rack might hold 42 servers, which would consume 10 kilowatts and result in an annual power bill of more than $32,000.

As you can see, IT companies potentially consume massive amounts of energy, which costs them a lot of money and has a real impact on the environment. When you look at the big picture of IT energy consumption and its carbon footprint, you might wonder what alternatives exist. In many cases, the answer is virtualization, which involves dividing a company’s servers into several virtual servers that exist on a single physical server. Going further, data centre services, such as cloud computing and storage, can be used to save even more energy. The companies that offer these services commonly focus on energy efficiency in their operations. As a result, it’s not unusual, when comparing the energy consumed by in-house computing to that used by cloud storage and processing, to see a reduction of almost 90 percent. Not only is this better for the environment, but it also lets IT businesses enjoy huge savings on their power bills.

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