What if it is possible to have carbon and water neutral modular datacenters?

Edged Energy is launching the largest global platform of carbon-neutral, zero-water data center
Sheila Zabeu -

August 25, 2023

A provider of modular datacenters is deploying carbon-neutral, water-free solutions. Edged Energy claims that with its modular platform for datacenters, it is setting a new standard for efficiency and resiliency with a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.15 even in places with warmer climates. These modules are considered carbon-neutral and use waterless cooling systems.

One of the most recent deployments began last May in the city of Aurora, in the Chicago area (United States). The new campus, named Aurora TechPark, will be built in three phases, with the first expected to be completed in June 2024. Also in the early stages of construction are another datacenter in Kansas, Missouri, and one in Atlanta, Missouri. state of Georgia.

According to Edged Energy, its platform for datacenters is optimized to ensure energy and water efficiency. Unlike traditional models, which have been putting great pressure on electricity and water supply networks around the world, this new deployment in Aurora, for example, will be equipped with ultra-efficient cooling technology that can handle high-density loads ( up to 50 kW per rack in air-cooled configurations and higher densities with liquid-cooled components), without consuming water. According to the company, the platform’s design helps ensure that datacenter operations are carbon-neutral. The Aurora campus will also allow for on-site charging of electric vehicles.

More than a dozen datacenters using Edged Energy’s technology are currently under construction around the world. In the Iberian Peninsula in particular, an association with the Iberian real estate company Merlin Properties initiated in 2021 has increased the local market with the construction of datacenters in Barcelona, Madrid-Getafe, Bilbao-Arasur and Lisbon over the years.

Neutral and green datacenters

A survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence revealed that companies that own, operate or lease datacenter services are concerned about sustainability issues at these facilities. He also pointed out that most of them continue to focus on the use of renewable energies that allow them to become neutral in terms of energy and water consumption.

Modular and distributed architectures of datacenters can contribute to accommodating renewable energy sources in places where the resource is limited, and also to increase the efficiency of operations. Furthermore, according to Gartner, liquid cooling can even be up to 3,000 times more effective while consuming less energy. Not to mention Artificial Intelligence (AI)-assisted cooling, which uses real-time sensor data to cool systems as needed, with optimal energy usage.

And why not consider hydrogen-powered datacenters?  ECL, for example, presented in January a modular and sustainable datacenter architecture that uses green hydrogen as the main source of energy. The solution uses 1 MW blocks with 99.9999% uptime and is optimized for mid-sized datacenters. According to ECL, facilities of this type do not consume local resources such as energy and water, and operate with zero carbon emissions and extremely low noise levels. The cooling system used by ECL allows for much higher rack densities than traditional datacenters. The water that arises as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation is used to cool the racks, eliminating the use of external water sources. In addition, these facilities can be delivered much faster than other models, reducing planning and construction cycles to six to nine months.

During the Global Smart Green Data Center Summit 2023 held last July in Mongolia, Huawei Digital Power Technologies also discussed how it is using four technologies (bit, watt, heat, and battery to build small, medium, and large datacenters that are modular and smart.

The global modular datacenter market is expected to reach US$30.8 billion in 2023 and reach US$61.5 billion in 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 18.9%. The main driver of growth is expected to be the increasing number of environmental protection and energy consumption regulations. For example, the European Commission is studying ways to increase the energy efficiency of datacenters to achieve carbon neutrality in the region by 2030, under the terms of the European Green Deal.

In addition to government initiatives, the private sector is also moving. CyrusOne, a US-based company that operates dozens of datacenters around the world, for example, has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2040. Innovation is also driving this market, as several companies integrate new technologies. For example, the French Schneider Electric SE, specializing in automation and energy management, launched a service aimed at European customers to install prefabricated datacenters in just 12 weeks.

In 2022, North America was the largest region in the modular datacenter market, but Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region in the study’s forecast period.