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Materials Science Investment key to reducing Data Centre energy consumption

16 June 2023

AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research welcomes the renewed discussions regarding data centres’ energy consumption this week and encourages legislators to now move the discussion to facilitating Materials Scientists at Research centres such as AMBER to solve the issue.


The renewed debate followed The Central Statistics Office (CSO) publication (12th June 2023) on Data Centres Metered Electricity Consumption 2022. The CSO data states that Data Centres accounted for 18% of total metered electricity consumption. This figure is only set to increase, Eirgrid’s most recent Generation Capacity Statement (GCS) estimates that Electricity demand from data centres in Ireland is expected to reach almost 30% by 2031.


So what is the solution? ICT at its core involves tools to facilitate the creation, storage, exchange, and transmission of information. We now live in a progressively more digital age, data consumption is here to stay and will only increase with the rise of artificial intelligence, and the internet of things and as such the need for data centres will only increase not lessen.


AMBER’s Executive Director Dr Lorraine Byrne said: “Innovation across everything from the computer chips in servers to building design to software will be required to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of data centres. Materials Science has an important role to play in this effort, for example approx. 30-50% of the data centre’s energy consumption goes into powering its cooling and ventilation systems. By the development of advanced materials with superior thermal conductivity we can significantly improve heat dissipation and reducing the demands on HVAC systems”


Dr Byrne continued: “Ultimately, reducing the energy consumption and heat generation at an individual chip level will be an enabler for improving the energy efficiency of data centres. This will require significant innovation in materials, processing, and device design. At AMBER we are developing materials and process technologies to enable the next generation of computer chips which will integrate memory and logic in a single chip to reduce the power consumption . These advances have been enabled by our strong foundation in basic scientific research coupled with  partnership and funding structures to facilitate their translation into applications with industry. To achieve lower energy consumption in data centres there is a need for greater investment, support, and political ambition right up to a European level to facilitate the materials research innovation.”

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AMBER has a strong emphasis on collaboration. Central to AMBER’s research remit are collaborative projects performed with industry partners, and working with academic, industry and wider stakeholder on international and national research programmes.

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