DataVita, Scotland’s only purpose-built data centre, is pioneering technologies that will minimise their impact on climate breakdown and could help revolutionise the carbon-heavy industry.

The Lanarkshire-based group is responsible for ensuring their clients’ IT infrastructure, including computer servers, storage and back up, is secure, never runs out of power and is kept cool.

The energy output of such a facility is enormous but by utilising developing technologies, MD Danny Quinn is confident that DataVita will lead the charge when it come to making sustainable changes within the industry.

READ MORE: Garden vision brings South America to the Highlands

He said: “We’re still in the early stages of the carbon responsibility era and I think we’re only going to see it move in one direction.”

Data centres have been found to have the same carbon footprint as the airline industry at 3% of the global electricity supply and account for around 2% of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, it was reported that the world’s data centres used more than Britain’s total electricity consumption that year.

DataVita opened their 8,000 square meter facility in 2016 providing services to large organisations and governmental departments. Mr Quinn estimates it now supports around 2 million Scottish citizens “in terms of services they consume and rely on.”

Built with energy efficiency in mind, as compared to other data centres that often repurpose existing buildings, the facility was designed with reducing its potential carbon load in mind.

DataVita uses the local climate to cool the infrastructure, using indirect air cooling strategies to feed outside air around the building and turning away from traditional, energy guzzling cooling systems.

Mr Quinn said: “There is a big cooling element to data centres that traditionally would have used air conditioning. Instead we use Scotland’s climate to cool the centre.

“People often assume the best place to have a data centre would be somewhere extremely cold but that produces other problems when you have to heat or condition it to get more humidity. Scotland has the ideal temperature - around 9 to 10 degrees average is perfect.”

The free air cooling is an efficient way to cool a datacentre that doesn’t use lots of power and doesn’t require external sources such as refrigerant. DataVita were the first centre in Scotland to utilise the technology due to the scale of their operation.

To heat the facility when temperatures drop, the company repurposes the heat generated from the IT equipment they store to maintain 22 to 27 degree optimal temperatures.

The centre is moving towards using 100% renewable energy, with plans to have their own wind turbines generating their own electricity within the next 24 months.

Mr Quinn said: “It is predicted that if the industry doesn’t change, it will account for 3% of the total worldwide carbon emissions and by 2040 that could be as much as 14% we are such large users of power. However, the industry is every forward thinking and we’re taking our responsibility very seriously. We see ourselves as the fourth utility behind gas, water and electricity and our facility supports a lot of infrastructure that if we weren’t there you would notice very rapidly.”

READ MORE: How Paws on Plastic is cleaning up Scotland

Using Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) electricity means that for every KW of power used, another KW of power is put back into the grid.

To guarantee to their customers that their systems will never lose power, DataVita ensure back up with generators but if they move to wind-powered electricity, they will also make use of the latest developments in battery storage.

Mr Quinn said: “We are in the advance stages of our own generation of electricity from wind but wind has a problem in that it stops sometimes and obviously data centres can’t stop. We will offset that by charging batteries when it’s windy that would allow us to then use our own energy 96% of the time and not rely on the grid.”

In terms of energy saving, Mr Quinn estimates that since 2016, DataVita has saved around a million tonnes of carbon every year.

He said: “If you moved 2MW of It equipment from an older centre to DataVita we would save around £1 million per year on energy costs and remove 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 from the environment. Two MW of power is equivalent to 1,800 kettles boiling all at the same time.

"The burden lies with ourselves and other tech companies to make sure our customers consume the services they want."