The East Africa Data Centre (EADC) has launched a new dedicated $5m Kenya Power substation in Nairobi. This new station will see EADC mains electricity 97 percent of the time, substantially cutting its diesel consumption, and raising its green credentials.
Previously, EADC was using Kenya Power electricity for 85 percent of the time, and diesel-fuelled backup generators for the other 15 percent of the time, during national grid power outages.
Speaking during the launch, EADC CEO Mr Dan Kwach said “For EADC, the move to secure 97 per cent availability of Kenya Power’s unusually green electricity has now positioned the data centre as an exceptionally sustainable option, offering it a competitive advantage over data centres elsewhere in Africa,” said Mr Kwach.
Data centres have been known to consume heavy energy since they house critical data for clients, including cloud services and data back-up, on servers that are heavy energy users. Globally, these data centres consume some 3 percent of the world’s electricity supply, and their power consumption growing at about 4 percent a year – driven by some of the world’s largest data centre users, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, as well as Microsoft and IBM. Google’s electricity consumption, alone, almost doubling each year, and now running at around 3.2 Gw and this has caused mounting concerns for policy makers.
“As the growth and power hungry nature of data centres has moved into the public eye, there has been an increasing focus on data centres sourcing energy from renewable energy sources, so that they are not contributing to global warming,” said Kwach. “This has seen the world’s data centres required, increasingly, to demonstrate their green credentials to win international clients.”
The challenge for data centres, globally, however, is that few options exist to generate enough renewable energy for each centre individually. However, with two-thirds of Kenya’s electricity now generated from renewable sources, the country has moved into a leading position in clean power, compared with other African nations and global energy mixes.
In the UK, renewable energy now accounts for around 25 percent of the electricity supply. In South Africa, it accounts for less than 10 percent, while Egypt is working to meet a target of 20 per cent of its electricity sourced from renewable energy by 2020, and Ghana to reach a target of 10 per cent.
This has seen EADC’s shift to more Kenya Power electricity to push it up the ‘green’ ladder as a green data centre, powered by a higher proportion of renewable energy than other data centres in Africa, and making it more appealing for environmentally conscious multinationals.
The launch was commissioned by CEO of Kenya Power, Dr Ben Chumo and the CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya, Mr Ben Roberts.