High-Performance Data Centers: A Research Roadmap

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When Californias electric utilities began receiving requests for huge electrical demands for data center facilities, it became evident that little information existed to validate actual data center electrical performance, or to see how the energy performance could be improved. As a result, California utilities and the California Energy Commission became interested in learning more about the data center market. Utility case studies and preliminary investigations confirmed that research with the objective of reducing the large, continuous electrical loads in data centers was clearly merited, however the role of public interest research for these types of facilities was not clear.

To tackle this problem, the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Industrial Program set out to define and prioritize energy efficiency research areas by engaging Data Center Industry professionals. In preparation of this roadmap, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) facilitated workshops, participated in industry forums, and researched energy issues related to data centers. As the topics in the roadmap were developed, opportunities for California public interest research and market transformation activities were the primary focus. Other research and standardization activities by others were noted, and it will be important to keep abreast of their progress as the California research agenda is advanced. In addition, data center professionals identified other parts of the energy efficiency puzzle that must be solved by the industry itself due to the highly specialized nature of much of the equipment in data centers. Even though the research in these areas will proceed through industry efforts, public interest encouragement may accelerate the development and adoption of new innovations.

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