Verne Global

Mind the Gap: Energy Availability and the Disconnect with Data

Today’s CIO faces a host of challenges and new trends. Budgets are tight and in many cases decreasing. At the same time, IT is becoming more strategic as the amount of data created is exploding and the value of accessing that data in real time is continuously increasing. Much of this data must be mined and acted upon instantaneously while it is still of value, requiring the application of bigger and more powerful data centers. Many companies cannot meet this challenge cost- effectively in-house, and are therefore increasingly resorting to outsourcing operations to larger and centralized data centers around the world.

However, while they support the virtual world and the amorphous cloud, data centers exist in the real world. One of the main challenges they face is sourcing clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. This is critical, as the power grid has become the central nervous system of the data-driven economy. However, many power grids are facing unprecedented challenges. They are having to cope with aging infrastructure, reliability issues, cost pressures and a mandate to decarbonize electricity supply resources. In many of the world’s more advanced power grids, the advent of large quantities of intermittent renewable resources - such as wind and solar, coupled with the retirement of many coal-fired facilities – add to the challenge. With many of these renewable resources distributed behind the meter at the customer premise, planning and revenue generation become ever more difficult. In this complex planning environment, many utilities face significant uncertainties and difficulties in planning new resource additions and keeping costs down. In some regions, this poses new challenges to grid reliability as well as cost.

For the CIO considering outsourcing to a data center, adequacy of electricity resources must become part of the decision-making process. The questions then become about the power source, reliability, and cost of operations. Where can CIOs find data centers that provide them with clean and low-cost power, the right climate, and stable and secure grids to meet their needs? In fact, as we shall see, there are only a small number of markets that meet this combination of requirements.

To read the full report by Peter Kelly-Detwiler, co-founder of NorthBridge Energy Partners, click here.

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