Data Center Growth Challenges Implementation Programs

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Companies are facing ever changing and ever increasing demands for data. We often hear “big data” or “the cloud” as a solution to manage data and applications more easily. This requires expanded facilities to store the data, whether it is an on-site server closet or a large facility that is used by many companies. As the trend continues to move toward cloud computing, the need for more data center space increases. Data center storage capacity is expected to double by the end of 2017; the estimated data center growth will increase from approximately 3 zettabytes in 2012 to more than 7 zettabytes by the end of 2017. In addition, data centers consumed approximately 2-4 percent of the total electricity used in the U.S.

But what does this mean for utilities? For one, because of the growth in data centers overall, they are becoming a larger part of many utility program portfolios. This paper will discuss the unique needs of data centers and the barriers to data center facilities seeking incentives through new construction whole building-type programs, and will suggest program modifications to help utilities serve this specialized market segment. It will also identify areas where additional research is needed.