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Improvements in energy efficiency

In recent years, the problem of climate change has become a material issue of urgency that the international community has to address, and, for example, companies are being required to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As energy sources account for a large proportion of the CO2 emissions in many countries, it is important to reduce unnecessary energy use and strive toward more efficient use.

IIJ is actively promoting efforts to cut our energy consumption at data centers in particular, because they are said to account for 2% of all the electricity consumed in the world. In addition, the Internet’s characteristic of reducing the movement of people and things is considered to be one way of helping to substantially improve energy efficiency throughout society as a whole.

Initiatives at Matsue Data Center Park

Matsue DCP

In 2011, we opened Matsue Data Center Park (“Matsue DCP”), Japan’s first modular data center with an outside air cooling system. Matsue DCP has adopted a container-unit modular architecture that integrates IT equipment and air conditioning as a module in a container, thereby enabling a much shorter construction period and flexible reconfiguration. In addition, each modular IT container uses IZmo to automatically select the operating mode appropriate for the temperature and humidity, thereby saving considerable amounts of energy.

Matsue DCP is rated highly by outside organizations as well, and has earned many awards.

Furthermore, the data center received ISO 14001 certification (environmental management systems) in 2013 to continuously promote environmental improvement activities, such as energy saving at data centers, throughout the organization.

IZmo IT module

IZmo IT module

Air conditioning systems in common data centers require large amounts of electricity to combat the heat emitted from IT equipment. IZmo units, Matsue DCP’s IT modules, have adopted the first outdoor air cooling system for a commercial data center so as to use compressors and chillers less frequently, thereby significantly reducing electricity consumption.

In addition, in contrast to conventional data centers that require large quantities of packaging and protective materials when carrying in and installing servers, IZmo units can be transported to a data center with servers pre-installed, which contributes to reducing not only packaging materials, but also CO2 emissions during transportation.

Energy-saving results and future efforts

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a metric that shows how efficiently electricity is used at a data center. It is calculated by dividing the electricity that an entire data center consumes by the electricity that the IT equipment there consumes. The closer to 1.0 the metric is, the more efficiently the data center uses power. In Japan, the metric is 2.0 for conventional data centers and 1.6 for newer data centers with highly efficient facilities. In comparison, Matsue DCP has achieved figures in the 1.2 range.

Annual Average PUE of Matsue DCP

Annual Average PUE of Matsue DCP

co-IZmo/I, a container-unit modular data center developed in 2013, adopted an indirect outside air cooling system so as to achieve high energy-saving performance even in an environment where the air quality is poor, such as air with a high grit, dust, and salt content. As such, we foresee it spreading to a wide range of regions.

In May 2019, to accommodate the large-scale demand accompanying increases in digital data expected due to the spread of 5G, IoT, and AI and etc., IIJ started operating the Shiroi Data Center Campus in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture with the help of knowledge gained at Matsue DCP. This data center campus adopted a system-module construction method that enables a larger-scale modular architecture, thereby systematizing and streamlining construction and production processes prior to construction work.



Shiroi Data Center Campus

Shiroi Data Center Campus

Estimated reduction in electricity consumption achieved with system cloud IIJ GIO

In 2009, IIJ launched IIJ GIO, cloud service, and, as of March 2020, has tens of thousands of servers and over 1,700 corporate customers. IIJ GIO uses energy-efficient data centers, including Matsue DCP, as its infrastructure and consolidates IT resources more efficiently using massive servers and storage equipment, thereby significantly reducing electricity consumption.

The entire service infrastructure consumes approximately 94,000 MWh of electricity per year, estimated to be an approximately 40% reduction (amount of electricity consumed by about 14,000 general households (*)), compared to the situation where everything is in an on-premises environment. Going forward, IIJ will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by pursuing improvements to IIJ GIO’s energy efficiency and helping cut the electricity that society consumes when using IT.

  • (*)Calculated by assuming that the average household consumes 4,397 kWh of electricity annually based on the “General Survey to Estimate Household CO2 Emissions: Nationwide Test Survey (October 2014 - September 2015)” by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan

Joint Crediting Mechanism: Energy-saving data center project in Laos

First energy-efficient data center in Laos

First energy-efficient data center in Laos

The Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) is a system to help reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by: spreading outstanding low-carbon technologies, products, systems, services, and infrastructures; promoting measures in developing countries; quantitatively evaluating how much Japan has contributed to reducing and absorbing GHGs through these activities; and utilizing evaluation results to achieve Japan’s GHG reduction targets. Using this system, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) contracted IIJ, Toyota Tsusho, and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities for a demonstration project aimed at verifying how effectively greenhouse gases can be reduced with the modular data center construction and operation technologies. This project involved installing co-IZmo/I, a modular data center, in Vientiane, Laos and verifying operations appropriate for the country’s environment and greenhouse gas reduction effects. At the same time, the project contributed to building the country’s first state-owned energy efficient data center, which will plays a central role in the country’s low-carbon growth model in field of IT.

In January 2019, this JCM project was issued credits (207t in total). This was the first time ever that a NEDO demonstration project had been issued credits in Laos since JCM was launched between Japan and Laos in 2013.

Initiatives through products and services

Visualizing electricity demand with the help of smart meters and B route

Smart meters are available in two types: “A-route” smart meters retrieve data every 30 minutes for use by general electric utilities to calculate electricity bills. In contrast, “B-route” meters retrieve electric usage data in virtually real-time. IIJ offers the authentication devices and services needed in B-route applications.

The lifelog data acquired through B-route meters may be used to create new services, including watchdog systems and energy-saving diagnoses. These meters also promise a role to play as electricity sensors for smart grids.

Remote access to reduce the movement of people and things

As working environments are rapidly becoming digital, as represented by telecommuting and web/video conferencing, the IIJ Group provides companies with a “digital workplace,” a comfortable and productive digital space.

The VPN service IIJ Flex Mobility Service, with its stable connections and low latency, prevents communication interruptions even in places with unstable mobile connections. In addition, the video conferencing system COLLABO de World can be used anywhere and anytime from the best available device, including dedicated terminals or PCs. These services are just a sample of those IIJ offers to increase productivity and enhance corporate value.

We also contribute to climate change mitigation by promoting digital workplaces through our infrastructure and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the movement of people and goods.

Toward the utilization of renewable energy

As well as saving energy, we must choose energy sources that emit less CO2 so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. As IIJ consumes a large amount of electricity for our operations, including data centers, we recognize the need to address this issue and have started considering ways to covert energy.

Deploying rechargeable batteries for renewable energy conversion

High-capacity lithium-ion batteries

High-capacity lithium-ion batteries installed
at the Shiroi Data Center Campus

At the IIJ Shiroi Data Center Campus, the lithium-ion storage batteries installed as a power supply during emergencies are also used during normal operations to promote load shifting and peak shaving in power demand.

Since their introduction in 2019, IIJ has verified their use in equalizing power for summer air conditioning and their peak shaving and load shifting performance.As a result, in August - the annual peak period - we measured a peak shaving effect of 10.8% of the total Shiroi DCC power demand.

We are also beginning to consider introducing solar power and other renewable energy sources in the future.

Introducing renewable energy sources will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but will also stabilize power supplies by storing excess generated power, strengthen resistance to blackouts and other disruptions.

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