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China Focuses on Developing Green Data Centres

China improves its guidance on the construction of data centres to prevent their haphazard development, the country’s top economic regulator. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) also said the larger goal is to foster the green and high-quality development of “new infrastructure”, a term that refers to digital-age assets like data centres and 5G networks.

Experts said the action plan, released by the NDRC and three other central government departments is in accordance with the country’s efforts to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and promote low-carbon and sustainable growth. Under the plan, 5G networks should figure in the plans for the construction of transportation, energy, industry and municipal infrastructure, and efforts should be made to optimise the layout of data centres.

China will form an integrated infrastructure pattern with well-distributed green data centres and 5G networks by 2025. The utilisation efficiency of electricity and renewable energy in data centres will be significantly improved, while newly built large and super large data centres nationwide will cut the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) value down to 1.3, according to the plan.

The plan stated data centres in eastern and western regions will achieve a balance in computing power, and the overall utilisation rate of the national data centres will obviously increase. Moreover, the utilisation rate of the data centres in western parts will rise from 30% to more than 50%. China has taken the lead over global peers in data centre construction, with more enterprises looking to scale up their data centres to ensure the reliability and stability of data services.

With the rapid development of 5G, the internet of things, Artificial Intelligence (AI), industrial internet and the commercial application of these new cutting-edge technologies, the demand for data processing is increasing, which has sped up the construction of data centres across the nation.

– Xiang Ligang, Director-General, Information Consumption Alliance

However, the investment in establishing data centres is enormous and these centres consume a large amount of electricity, which provides carbon emissions and environmental pollution. Chinese technology companies should utilise innovative technologies to improve data centres’ operational efficiency and cut power consumption.

According to a report from China’s State Grid Energy Research Institute, the electricity consumption by data centres alone in 2020 is estimated to exceed 200 billion kilowatt-hours, accounting for 2.7% of the country’s electricity consumption. By 2030, data centre electricity consumption in China will exceed 400 billion kWh, accounting for 3.7% of the country’s total electricity consumption.

Data centres should increase computing efficiency, save computing energy consumption, and truly meet the needs of future smart computing. Chinese technology firms have started to work on green solutions to reduce the electricity and energy consumption of data centres. For instance, an online search giant, which has morphed into a technology pioneer with a focus on AI, said it is stepping up efforts to decrease the carbon emissions of its data centres by switching to clean energy and improving energy efficiency.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, China aims to build environmentally friendly data centres, including those in clusters, across the country that will feature advanced technology and computing power compatible with the growth of its digital economy by the end of 2023, according to a three-year plan unveiled by the nation’s top industry regulator.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said efforts will be made to accelerate the construction of data centre clusters in regions such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the Yangtze River Delta region to deploy large-scale computing power to meet the needs of major regional development strategies. The plan also called for more actions to improve the service quality and the utilisation efficiency of computing power in provinces such as Guizhou and Gansu.

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