GE recently completed an energy efficiency renovation of its Cincinnati, Ohio data center, including a cooling system retrofit that will cut its water use by one-fifth and save 24 million kilowatt-hours of power each year – an 11 percent improvement.
A key part of the renovation was the introduction of a better control system. Engineers were able to automate many processes with new hardware and software and a dashboard application that gives a summary, comparative, and location operational performance data.
Now, to help potential clients emulate its example with their own data centers, GE will advise them using its digital energy, lighting systems, water and automation lines of business, helping them achieve as much as a 40 percent cut in energy use, GE’s Chief Technology Officer Greg Simpson was quoted as saying.
Potential customers are already showing interest, said Marcel Van Helten, global industry director for GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, the joint venture of GE and Japan’s Fanuc Ltd. that handled the automation of GE’s Ohio data center.
And no wonder: Power costs for data centers could rise to as high as $7.4 billion a year without efficiency improvements, according to last year’s estimate from the EPA (via GreenTech Media). A recent report from McKinsey predicted that data centers in general may surpass the airline industry as a top greenhouse gas polluter by 2020, with each now consuming the same amount of energy as 25,000 households.
GE is not alone – Hewlett-Packard, Scottrade, IBM, Sun Microsystems (JAVA), Schneider Electric’s American Power Conversion and others are getting into the data center efficiency business in a big way.
A recent report ranked GE among the companies best-positioned to benefit from a coming boom in energy efficiency, though it still faces competition from Cooper, Philips, Acuity, Hubbell and Schneider.