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LCQ14: Green data centres

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 6):


     In recent years, the Government has been actively attracting investors to set up data centres in Hong Kong.  A consultancy study commissioned by the Government pointed out that the demand for data centre space in Hong Kong, measured in terms of Raised Floor Space (RFS), would grow at a compound annual rate of 9.8% from 2009 to 2015.  However, some environmentalists have pointed out that the huge electricity consumption by information and communications technology facilities and data centres has an impact on the environment.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current number, total area and total RFS of the data centres in Hong Kong, as well as the respective rates of increase of these figures in 2012;

(b) of the total number of data centres set up in Hong Kong as a result of the facilitation efforts made by the Data Centre Facilitation Unit since its establishment in July 2011; of the respective areas, locations and completion dates/expected completion dates of such data centres, as well as the respective companies to which they belong;

(c) whether it has compiled statistics on the annual total electricity consumption of the data centres in Hong Kong; if it has, of the outcome;

(d) given that the average power usage effectiveness (PUE) value of data centres around the world is currently about 1.8 and that of some new data centres can even be as low as 1.1, whether the Government has compiled statistics on the PUE of the data centres in Hong Kong; if it has, of the outcome;

(e) whether it has assessed the impact of the development of data centres on future electricity demands, as well as the impact on tariffs brought about by the investments on power supply facilities made to meet such demands;

(f) given that the Singaporean Government launched the Green Data Centre certification in 2012 and is offering tax concessions ranging from 30% to 50% for investments in energy-saving equipment for data centres, whether the Government has any plan to formulate, by making reference to such a practice and collaborating with the trade, a set of "Green Data Centre Standards" for the data centres in Hong Kong, and provide financial incentives to encourage data centres to save energy and implement environmental protection measures; and

(g) of the following information relating to the data centres owned by the Government:

(i) current number;

(ii) total area and total RFS;

(iii) total power consumption in 2012;

(iv) average PUE; whether the Government has any plan to set PUE targets for its data centres;

(v) the percentage of data centres implementing the green data centre practices promulgated by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer in early 2012, as well as the effectiveness of such practices since their implementation; and

(vi) given that the Government has raised the room temperature of its data centres from 22XC to 23XC, and according to the recommendations of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, the standard room temperature of a data centre is 18XC to 27XC and the acceptable temperature can be as high as 32XC, whether the Government will consider gradually raising the room temperature of the data centres to 25XC or 26XC by improving the air distribution in data centres, so as to enhance the PUE of the data centres?



     My reply to Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat's seven-part question is as follows:

(a) Organisations and enterprises of different sectors may set up data centres having regard to their operational needs.  Some of their data centres are set up in their offices or inside commercial or industrial buildings.  As the setting up of such data centres does not require government approval, we do not have the number, total area and total raised floor space of all data centres in Hong Kong.

(b) Since its establishment, the Data Centre Facilitation Unit has assisted three overseas operators to set up two high-tier data centres in Hong Kong, with total site area of about three hectares.  Moreover, we also encourage the industry to make use of the incentive measures to convert existing industrial buildings or industrial lots into data centres.  As at end December 2012, the Government received a total of four applications for exemption of waiver fees for changing parts of an industrial building into data centre use.  Of these, one application has been approved and the remaining three are being processed.  Information on their size, locations and completion dates as well as the companies to which they belong is commercial in nature.  The Government is not in a position to disclose such information.

(c) and (d) Data centres are not required to report their electricity consumption to the Government.  Therefore we do not have the information on the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of data centres.  However, we believe that data centres will try their best to use energy efficiently to reduce operating costs.

(e) In searching sites and prior to construction, data centre operators would liaise closely with the power companies on their electricity requirements and the impact on overall power supply.  In respect of any proposals to invest in power supply facilities, the Government will continue to perform the gate-keeping duties with best endeavour to safeguard the interests of the public.

(f) In 2012, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) promulgated good practices on green data centre management, setting out requirements for green procurement and disposal of information technology equipment and data centre facilities for reference by the industry.  Regarding the setting up of new data centres, the Government issued a Practice Note in June 2012 for applications for high-tier data centre development on industrial lots, which requires submission of green building designs and other green measures, with a view to encouraging data centres to achieve energy conservation and enhance energy efficiency.  The data centre industry has also implemented various green and energy-saving measures in design and operation to reduce carbon emission and operating costs.  For instance, some data centres which have been recently upgraded and new ones will have adopted energy-saving measures in construction and operation, optimisation of air flow and chiller systems, as well as virtualisation of computer servers.

(g) Regarding the information of government data centres:

(i) There are currently 29 government data centres in 18 bureaux and departments (B/Ds).

(ii) The total area and total raised floor space of these data centres are about 19 530 square metres and 12 780 square metres respectively.

(iii) and (iv) Government data centres are located in the offices of relevant departments or government properties, and their power consumption has been included as an inseparable part of the overall power consumption of those offices or government properties.  Hence, we do not have information on the power consumption and PUE of individual government data centre, and have not set any relevant targets.

(v) and (vi) In 2010, OGCIO promulgated the Green Data Centre Practices for reference and adoption by B/Ds in their data centre management.  In 2011, OGCIO exchanged views with the Environment Bureau and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department on these practices (including the latest recommendations of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers).  Taking into account existing operational considerations of data centres in various B/Ds, it was recommended to raise the room temperature of government data centres to 23XC (3XC), i.e. 20XC to 26XC.  The updated Green Data Centre Practices (version 2012) has reflected this recommendation.

     In 2011, OGCIO conducted a survey on green data centre practices among B/Ds, which showed that all B/Ds have undertaken to adopt the recommended practices, and would fully implement these recommendations when renewing systems and facilities as well as setting up new data centres.  Moreover, they would enhance existing facilities for better energy efficiency while maintaining normal operational services.  For example, in the three data centres managed by OGCIO, we have made reference to the Government's green procurement policy and green product standards promulgated by the Environment Bureau in procuring computer equipment.  In addition, we are progressively switching to energy-efficient air conditioning systems, uninterruptible power systems and diesel generators.  We have installed green fire protection and lighting systems, raised the room temperature, implemented virtualised infrastructure, and adopted the design to separate hot and cold air when enhancing existing computer systems and installing new systems.  We also arrange training, experience sharing sessions and workshops for B/Ds from time to time to promote these practices and increase their awareness on green data centre management.

Ends/Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:12


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