With innovative commitments to sustainable practices across all areas of its business, Schneider Electric delivers an outstanding contribution to data centre sustainability and efficiency.
Sustainability and efficiency have long been hallmarks of Schneider Electric, helping customers to deploy technologies and embrace business strategies that minimise the impact of carbon emissions on the environment.
Named as Corporate Knights’ ‘Most Sustainable Corporation in the World’ in 2021 and long-known as the world-leader leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, it has a history of driving digital transformation going back to the 1980s. In the 1990s, the data centres became essential for businesses, and Schneider Electric introduced a new architecture to design and build mission-critical physical infrastructure. Today it works to build sustainable hyperscale facilities, colocation and on-premise data centres, and edge computing environments that truly underpin the digital economy. Data centres have long been built into the fabric of our digital lives, and are essential to everything we do. As they grow in number and our appetite for connectivity and data increases, Schneider Electric is leading the industry; creating the hardware, software and the holistic strategies helping drive sustainable data centre operations.
Key distinguishing features and USPs
With the impacts of climate change becoming more prominent each year, there has never been a more crucial time for businesses across the world to accelerate their commitments to sustainability and Net Zero. The data centre industry itself is becoming increasingly accountable and has a key role to play in driving sustainable operations. In fact, today data centres directly contribute to 5 of the UN’s sustainable development goals and various analysis suggests that they represent 1-2% of global electricity consumption.
It’s expected we’ll see an 11% growth (CAGR) of new European hyperscale and colocation capacity between 2020-2023, and with such providers setting ambitious sustainability commitments, they have long been driving the market, inspiring and pushing the boundaries of data centre design. Schneider Electric is no stranger to Net Zero, and in 2019 it publicly announced it would play its part by:
• Accelerating its 2030 goal of carbon neutrality in its extended ecosystem by five years to 2025;
• Removing gas and ensuring the end of SF6 by the end of 2025;
• Reaching net-zero operational emissions by 2030 as part of validated SBT target;
• Achieving a net-zero supply chain by 2050.
In 2020, Schneider Electric announced it was further accelerating its sustainability commitments and promised to help customers save/ avoid 800M tonnes of carbon emissions by 2025. Just months into that program, it has helped to reduce CO2 by 276 million tonnes. Today, data centre sustainability is now being driven by customers and in a recent survey of more than 800 global operators, Schneider Electric and 451 Research found that 97% of providers’ customers are asking for contractual sustainability commitments, and that requirements account for the top drivers for sustainability, (50%). Schneider Electric has a long history of providing energy efficient products that help both owners and operators to minimise energy consumption, but in recent years have pushed the boundaries of innovation and design, bringing disruptive technologies to market. They include:
• Lithium-ion uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) such as it’s Galaxy series - Providing up to 99% efficiency when operated in Schneider Electric’s patented ECOnversion mode.
• Uniflair Cooling Portfolio – using a free cooling architecture to 25% more efficiency and sustainability than comparable systems
• Liquid cooling technologies – offering greater levels of energy efficiency, smaller footprint, lower noise pollution and up to 14% CapEx savings compared to air-cooled systems.
• EcoStruxure Row Data Centre – using a standardised methodology including racks, power, IT and cooling to drive energy efficiency, reduce install time and decrease risk.
• Prefabricated, Modular Data Centres – enabling facilities to be designed for an ultra-low PUE and be both deployed and operational within 6-9 months.
• EcoStruxure Micro Data Centres - pre-integrated, energy efficient edge computing systems combining power, cooling, physical security, IT, software and services.
• SF6-free switchgear – utilising pure air instead of SF6 gas, which has a high Global Warming Potential (GWP).
• Microgrids – helping operators to integrate on-site renewables such as wind and solar, and generate new revenue by both storing electricity and selling it back to the grid during peak demand.
Schneider Electric holds 16,250 patents and or patent applications and devotes 5% of sales to R&D annually, ensuring a continuous commitment to technology innovation.
Software is also another key differentiator of its business and is an essential component of sustainability and energy efficiency programs. What’s not measured cannot be managed, and to help operators gain access to data driven insights that drive sustainable decision-making, Schneider Electric has created the market’s first, vendor-agnostic and open, interoperable, next-generation data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software, EcoStruxure IT. This DCIM software uses predictive analytics and machine learning to deliver real time visibility into the health and status of data centre and edge computing environments anywhere, at any time. Further, it enables operators to monitor and manage their energy consumption remotely, while ensuring greater levels of resiliency.
Tangible impact on the market
Today, Schneider Electric has helped create market-leading products, software and services to help customers drive sustainability and efficiency. However, it has also devised strategies to think outside of the confines of traditional designs, consider the wider ecosystem and the impact of scope-3 emissions. Here, Schneider Electric’s future vision is focused on six key vectors of a holistic sustainability strategy.. These include:
1. Creating and deploying a Global Climate strategy - including benchmarking climate change strategies, engaging internal stakeholders, identifying goals, prioritising sustainable actions, deploying programs, establishing reporting systems and measuring progress against set targets.
2. Maximising renewable and clean energy - allowing operators to decarbonise their energy mix and optimise costs with a renewable procurement strategy inclusive of PPAs, VPPAs, microgrids, energy-as-a-service and carbon offsets.
3. Establishing resource-efficient data centre designs - creating customised, efficient, repeatable data centre designs to meet infrastructure needs globally.
4. Driving efficiency in day-to-day operations - Utilising software and analytics to drive efficiency in day-to-day operations; ensuring resiliency with remote monitoring and predictive insights; and optimising the lifecycle.
5. Utilise circular materials and systems – Schneider Electric has been recognised by the WEF for its Circular Economy approach, which includes retrofit and take-back programs, manufacturing resource efficiency (plastics/packaging), Green Premium and Eco-design products. These efforts result in equipment that lasts longer, is easily recyclable and support a low-waste circular economy.
6. Reducing carbon within wider supply chains - helping customers to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy through a Scope 3 footprint evaluation and hands-on supply chain engagement strategies to meet decarbonisation objectives.
Energy consumption at the edge is another key challenge for operators, with edge computing energy usage set to dwarf that of traditional data centres. According to Gartner, by 2025, 75% of enterprise data is expected to be created and processed at the edge. At the edge, deploying 100,000 data centres (each consuming 10kW of power) would create a power consumption of 1,000MW for the IT energy alone. Assuming a moderate power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.5 would mean these systems also emit the equivalent of 800k tons of CO2. However, if each edge facility was standardised and designed for a PUE of 1.1, we could reduce the total CO2 emissions to 580K tons annually. Consequently, there is also a clear benefit in producing pre-integrated systems where standardisation, modularity, performance, and sustainability form fundamental components. This is where Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Micro Data Centres come in.
These building blocks offer users the ability to design, build, and operate edge data centres for greater sustainability, while using energy efficient technologies to reduce burdens on the system, overcome failures, and increase performance without negatively affecting PUE. Next-generation DCIM platforms are also essential, not just from a remote monitoring perspective, but to drive energy efficiency, security, and uptime. By considering energy efficient deployment methodologies and embracing a culture of continuous innovation, Schneider Electric is helping operators to choose a more sustainable approach to edge computing.
Differentiators, customer service and success stories
As Corporate Knights’ Most Sustainable Corporation in the World, Schneider Electric is honoured to work with customers globally to drive sustainability and efficiency. Key European examples include:
• 75% of electricity use converted to green power
• 100% renewable energy serving the entire U.K., Ireland, and Benelux operations
• Generated clean energy to power the equivalent to 56,000 U.S. homes equivalent to removing more than 10,000 cars from the road annually
• Delivered a sustainable solution with ultra-low carbon footprint
• Heat recovery and liquid cooling enabled for HPC workloads
• Peak shaving to support the grid
• PUE of 1,15 for its TIER IV design.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)
• Cut energy costs by 30%;
• Reduced emissions by 4%.
• Reduce energy consumption by 50%.
• Leading to an overall reduction in data centre energy costs of £125K.
Wellcome Sanger Institute
• Increased visibility into the environment, helped to lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact.
Through its outstanding commitments to energy efficient technologies, sustainable business strategies and delivering tangible results that result in significant customer carbon emission reductions, Schneider Electric is undoubtedly the world-leader in data centre sustainability and efficiency.