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Balancing Act: The Dual Influence of AI on Data Center Power and Sustainability

June 17, 2024

Sandra MacGregor,, March 19, 2024

Data centers face escalating challenges in managing power and improving energy efficiently. The surge in AI-driven workloads has intensified the strain on data center resources, exacerbating concerns about energy consumption and environmental sustainability. In fact, in a January 2024 report, the International Energy Agency forecasted that data centers globally may more than double their electrical consumption by 2026.

The fundamental shift that AI will play in data centers can’t be overstated. The 2024 AFCOM State of the Data Center Report notes that: “Artificial intelligence is a significant driver in how we will be building facilities moving forward. Simply put, every data center will become an AI data center… This change happened so fast that many hardly noticed. But this change is here, and it will impact your facilities.”

Ali Fenn, the president of Lancium and keynote speaker at the forthcoming Data Center World 2024, harbors a profound optimism for the role of AI in revolutionizing the data center industry, while also recognizing the formidable challenges that must be navigated on the path to progress. “AI has for many years been driving efficiency gains via such things as forecasting load shapes, weather, corresponding cooling demand… and tuning workloads and MEP systems to advance both cost and climate goals,” explains Fenn, who was recently featured in the New York Times.

“I think the next phase is not just run time process efficiency, but also the fact that AI is now helping to enable more fundamental breakthroughs, such as via the discovery of new materials that may, in turn, catalyze innovation in battery technology, hence energy storage and the acceleration of greater renewable energy.”

Fenn goes on to note that one of the most significant opportunities for AI in the data center industry lies at the intersection of data centers and the grid. “The rapid growth of data center demand and the emergence of large-scale, gigawatt-scale data centers presents new challenges for grid operators,” explains Fenn. “At Lancium, we focus on developing AI-driven power orchestration and optimization technology to provide grid reliability and ensure workload reliability for both data centers and their customers, with SLAs that prioritize both reliability and carbon-free energy.”

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