The Big London Data Centre Survey

Here’s a question for you all, how many data centres are there in London?

Do we care, and if we do, why?

Independent reasearch conducted over the last few years by journalists, government research bodies and environmental organisations indicate that between 3 – 10% of the worlds electricity is used in our communcations networks, these are our phone and internet networks and critical infrastructure such as motorway warning signs, railways signalling systems and electricty and gas monitoring networks as well as power stations etc, data centres form part of a trilogy, devices, networks and data centres. Each segment is porported to use approximately 33%, thus data centres could be using betwen 1 & 3% of the worlds energy.

Think that the total world electricty consumption is 23950TWh, then data centres will account for 205-617TWh, for comparison, the UK has a total consumption of 317TWh. Source: 

We know from the gwatt project that in 2013 energy for “Global ICT” was estimated at 122GWh, devices estimated at 39 GWh or the equivalent to 7 New York cities. global telecommunications networks accounted for 83GWh or 12 New York cities and data centres accounted for 43GWh.

Clearly, something is awry, 43 GWh = 0.043TWh and 122GWh = 0.122TWh, the differences in the data is vast, but could be due to the fact that the gwatt project was looking at Telecommunication Hubs only for their data centre energy use, still this means that there are a lot of unrecorded data centres using the balance.

If we look at the UK total and extrapolate, from 312TWh, and assuming at 1% Data Centre energy profile, we get 3.12 TWH or 3123GWh, if we use 3% we get 9.36TWh or 9369GWh, these are yearly figures, so a 2MW data centre will use approx 730MWh a year, if we multiply the total consumption of 3132GWh by 1000, we get 3,123,000MWh divide that by 730MWh (assuming that all facilities are 2MW), then we arrive at 4300 Data Centres OR 8600 1MW data centres

If we assume that 1/2 of a data centres energy consumption is cooling then we have potential to reduce data centre energy across the UK by approximately 40%, perhaps more.

London as a major world city and an important hub for world internet traffic is going to have more connectivity and thus more data centres than in most other cities around the world.

Studies suggest that London has approximately 50% of the total data centre estate across the EU

We need to conduct a survey in London to ascertain exactly how many facilities there are and how much energy saving potential there actually is, and remember the figures above assume 1MW data centres, the majority of data centres are smaller and we should technically restrict small facilities, so if we say anything over 20 racks, is actively cooled and has back up power supplies is a datacentre then how many of this type of facility can be found within the M25 London Orbital Motorway? The answer is, no body knows, there are so many of them, all controlled by individual companies, companies with multiple sites or public sector departments that no one has full visibility of the actual number. We can hazard a guess though but we’d much rather conducting a formal (paid for) research project.

We got some background data we can use as a starter for ten, but in order to conduct a proper investigation, we’d want to sharpen up on our research process and update our databases.


Who wants to help? (by providing funding?)

Expressions of interest please to info@SFL.LONDON