Since the BP-contracted Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, killing 11 workers and sending tens of thousands of barrels of oil into the sea every day, the oil industry has been subject to an understandable barrage of bad press. Finding a good news story amongst all of this environmental doom and gloom is, to be fair, pretty tough. However, I think I might just have managed it courtesy of that most unlikely of environmental heroes: the data centre.

It would appear that a data centre which was designed and built by Keysource for the oil exploration surveyor Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has achieved a pretty impressive annualised Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) figure. PUE is the metric that determines the energy efficiency of a data centre by dividing the power that enters it by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within. The magic PUE number is 1 with overall efficiency improving as it gets closer to that figure. The PGS data centre has achieved a PUE of just 1.17 which makes it one of the most energy-efficient facilities of this kind in Europe.

To put that into some kind of perspective, the data centre has achieved first year savings of £650,000 and a 6.7 million KWh drop in power consumption, equating to a 2.9 million kg reduction in CO2 emissions. It has managed this by using the Ecofris scalable free cooling solution which does not require the use of additional chillers until outside temperatures reach 24 degrees Celsius. Therefore, additional power for cooling is only needed for between 80 and 100 hours each year because the system is able to make the most of low UK ambient temperatures in combination with adiabatic (using pressure changes to cool the gas) cooling.

Mike Turff, Global Data Centre Manager at Petroleum Geo-Services commented: “We are committed to reducing energy, so we needed to develop a data centre that broke the mould using proven technology to provide a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible means of storing vital data. We are thrilled by what has been achieved so far and the recognition it has received, and we will continue to work with Keysource to keep the facility at the forefront of the data centre industry.”

Mike West, Managing Director of Keysource said: “We went back to the drawing board to develop a data centre of the future that was energy efficient, cost effective and supported today’s high-density hardware. Our aim was to significantly reduce the power required for cooling whilst ensuring high levels of resilience, predictability and performance that would deliver unrivalled benefits to PGS.”