Water consumption in data centers is a cause for concern

Cooling servers in data centers is a challenge for all cloud players. Gorodenkoff / stock.adobe.com

As drought plagues Europe, a report published in the Netherlands condemns the increase in water consumption in Microsoft’s data centers.

It couldn’t be worse. While Europe has been hit by one of the worst droughts in its history, the Dutch press is repeating a damning report on data warehouses. Last year, Microsoft’s giant data storage facility in the north of the country swallowed 84 million liters of water, 4 to 7 times more than the American initially reported. It was revealed by the local media that Noordhollands Dagbladconfirmed by the Dutch government, the case raises many concerns.

The increase in water consumption is all the more worrying because it could get worse this year. In fact, like most of the latest generation data storage centers, Microsoft uses ambient air to cool its servers. This technique, known as “air cooling”, makes it possible to achieve significant energy savings, as it limits the record to air conditioning. But for it to work, the outside temperature must be below 25 degrees. When the heat rises, it is necessary to continue cooling the installations, which are very sensitive to changes. Microsoft uses water cooling systems for this. And the warmer it is, the more water data centers use. Last year, the temperature in the affected region exceeded 25 degrees for six days. Summer 2022, this fateful line has already been crossed six times since the beginning of August, according to data available on weatheronline.

Which continues to fuel debate about the ecological footprint of data centers. Currently, according to Wavestone, they would consume 4% of the electricity produced in the world… thus indirectly contributing to global warming! More than ever, the issue of energy efficiency is pressing. However, other questions arise, especially related to the use of digital technologies, with the consumer habits of each.

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