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Data centre cooling infrastructure must be compliant ahead of summer

Data centre operators must ensure cooling infrastructure being repaired or replaced is compliant with regulations if extreme heat reaches similar heights to last year, according to a temperature control specialist, Aggreko.

Affecting both the UK and EU, the 2020 F-Gas ban is a requirement of EU Regulation 517/2014 and means no refrigerants with a high global warming potential (GWP) can be used in cooling systems. For European data centres with mechanical cooling systems, this means refurbishment or replacement of ageing infrastructure must be compliant with these regulations.

As Covid-19 may have disrupted maintenance schedules for data centres across Europe, Aggreko warns it is imperative that cooling systems are compliant with regulations when being repaired or replaced. Continuing supply chain issues may mean that this process could be prolonged while waiting for equipment to arrive, if mechanical cooling is used.

Though many data centres may opt for a free cooling approach, rising temperatures across Europe caused by climate change may mean permanent cooling infrastructure reaches its limit. With this in mind, Nick Osborne, Data Centre Specialist at Aggreko, is warning operators to plan for temporary cooling ahead of summer heatwaves.

“The Met Office has predicted we will see even more instances of heatwaves across Europe this summer, so data centre cooling systems are at risk of reaching their limit,” said Osborne. “If cooling demand exceeds capacity or the cooling system is awaiting repair or replacement within regulation parameters, unexpected and costly downtime is likely to ensue during critical periods. Data centre operators must ensure their plans for supplementary cooling for these heatwaves are in place now before the summer begins.”

Given that the periods of extreme heat are limited, European operators may find it more practical to hire temporary cooling solutions to boost cooling capacity for the times. On top of ensuring F-gas ban compliance, outsourcing the supplementary cooling to a temperature control expert means the correct level of equipment can be selected and integrated easily into the existing infrastructure after site audits.

Osborne added: “With supply chain issues and financial uncertainty being key challenges of the past year, temporary cooling equipment hire could mitigate downtime while permanent infrastructure upgrades are made or free cooling methods are introduced. We are more reliant on data centres than ever, so avoiding cooling failure-related downtime through careful planning is paramount to navigating the summer months.”

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