The enormous global appetite for online everything — connections, work, shopping, gaming, social media, and more — requires more data, more storage, and more data centers. How can the industry meet these growing data and energy needs sustainably and cost effectively? 

A new study carried out by 451 Research/S&P Global Market Intelligence, The Intersection of Digital Transformation and the Energy Transition, examined the importance of factoring the energy transition into digital transformation planning. The research included 1,001 respondents (including 250 data center operators) who are involved in digital transformation efforts across four power-critical businesses — the center, utility, building, and industrial markets — in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. 

The report shows that, because of the inherently digital nature of data centers, they are in a great position to manage and take advantage of the energy transition. However, establishing new energy business models is key, which means creating a business advantage by finding better ways to measure and manage energy usage to reduce costs. Data centers can also create new revenue sources from the power they generate. And better yet, they can do both. 


new study commissioned by Eaton
A new study commissioned by Eaton revealed the strategies data centers are implementing today to improve energy operations, boost sustainability, and optimize operations.


Data center energy priorities require change

It’s clear from the study’s findings, data center operators must recognize that changes need to be made to ensure the increasingly digital world is also a sustainable one. Further, new energy business models are essential to improve upon how data centers view and manage power needs. 

Unsurprisingly, the report showed this sector is largely driven by two imperatives: to deliver new and better services on one hand and update and optimize infrastructure on the other. Nearly half (47%) of respondents cited delivering new services and capabilities as a top data center challenge, along with meeting rising performance requirements. But those service challenges are matched by operational challenges, including optimizing energy/power consumption (38%) and meeting sustainability goals and metrics (37%). 

There’s no question about it, these important energy considerations — power, cooling, and heat utilization — are already a components of optimized data centers. Moving forward, those needs will become even more important, as data centers proliferate and scale, their services become central to even more businesses — impacting site selection, construction, and operations. 


Intersection of Digital Transformation and the Energy Transition study
The results of the Intersection of Digital Transformation and the Energy Transition study showcase how digital technologies and new energy business models can be utilized to address the majority of surveyed data center priorities.


The report also revealed some of the factors guiding the efficiency and sustainability efforts of data centers today. Among energy transition and sustainability goals, several stand out. Half of data center respondents cited the need to increase renewables; followed by improving energy storage (47%); providing power intelligence insights to more people — from technicians to the C-suite (41%); and promoting that story to regulators, markets, and customers (40%). 

People's lives are becoming increasingly digitalized, and the energy required to achieve this is going to rise. To enjoy the benefits of a digital society and economy, there’s an energy price that must be paid.