Why Water Use Can Be As Important As Energy Consumption

When choosing a location, data centers often look for a location close to their end customers and one where there’s cheap electricity.

Water was an afterthought, said Pedro Sancha, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Nalco Water, but that’s beginning to change.

With water needed to cool the data center, companies were bringing in Nalco after realizing they didn’t have the right permits or hadn’t worked out a way to bring in water effectively at all. Now it’s a main consideration when constructing the data center in the first place.

“They’re more proactive. They’re starting to engage us early in the process before they even decide where they’re going to build a data canter,” Sancha said.

Some are thinking big, like the Nalco client taking water from nature, utilizing it, cleaning it and putting it back into the world. Others are simply looking to be a bit more environmentally friendly or better understand how to lower costs. Many data centers are still using potable water, competing with average citizens for the general water supply.

“We do have technologies that help you optimize your cooling systems. Beyond choosing the right locations and the right cooling technology, there are ways existing data centers already can significantly reduce their water use,” Sancha said. “The irony is we need a lot of water to cool those data centers and support the technology revolution, but we also can use that technology to manage water in a smart way. That’s the full circle.”

Like the water cycle that brings us the precious resource to earth, it’s possible technology will help us create a positive loop, as well. For now, we can take heart that data centers are beginning to consider the implications of their setup on the aquatic world.

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