As AI boom triggers data centre growth, Schneider Electric steps up to seize the opportunity

Use of artificial intelligence has created the need for enhanced data processing capabilities, and this is leading to a surge in demand for cooling solutions, says Pankaj Sharma, EVP, Secure Power Division & Data Center Business, Schneider Electric.

The rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) has skyrocketed the demand for data processing, resulting in an increased need for cooling solutions. Keeping this in view, Schneider Electric recently inaugurated a factory in Bangalore that will focus on developing innovative cooling solutions to meet the growing exponential demand for the data centre ecosystem. The company specifies that the products and solutions would be used for data centres, telecom, commercial and industrial applications in domestic and international markets — 85% of the products manufactured here will be exported. The primary focus would be to make systems that provide targeted cooling directly at the heat source, maximising server performance but minimising energy consumption.

In an interaction with ET Online, Pankaj Sharma, EVP, Secure Power Division & Data Center Business, Schneider Electric, says the data centre sector in India is witnessing remarkable expansion, fuelled by the rise of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other data-centric applications. This has served as inspiration for the French multinational to expand its operations with a continued focus on expanding India’s data centre ecosystem besides catering to global demand. 

Could you elaborate on the innovative strategies being implemented by Schneider Electric to minimise the environmental impact of energy-intensive data centres globally?Pankaj Sharma: The demand for data centres has been there for almost a decade and it’s growing from a global perspective, including India. In fact, it’s even faster in India. There has been a transition from enterprise data centres to cloud data centres, e-commerce, blockchain and metaverse and now AI. With that entire demand and now with AI, the demand for data centres has gone up even more. A global agency on energy consumption, the IEA, talks about how the power consumption at data centres is about 2% at the global level, and is predicted to go to almost 6%. So that’s the level of increase we are expecting.

Now, from a sustainability point of view, even before AI became the buzzword, we’ve always had innovative solutions. We do medium voltage, low voltage, the entire power distribution terrain, etc. We have very simple, but innovative technologies that focus on sustainability. An example would be our UPS systems and the grid compatibility which some of these systems have, which helps in sustainability. In terms of medium voltage switchgear, Schneider Electric uses air instead of gases, which is very important for pushing sustainability. Our EcoCare programme plays a significant role in promoting sustainability by managing heat generation at the rack level in data centres and other critical infrastructure. The programme focuses on optimising the lifecycle management of core technologies in modular data centres, including components like low voltage switchgear, UPS and cooling systems. By employing condition-based maintenance, the programme ensures that equipment operates efficiently, thus reducing unnecessary heat generation and energy use.We have also introduced numerous innovations around liquid cooling systems, which we aim to produce in this Bangalore facility. Through such measures, we look at solving the sustainability problem.

About Schneider Electric

Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On. Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency. We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.

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