ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 45

COLUMN DATA CENTERS
Technology such as immersion cooling can result in
impressive power effi ciency due to its use of sealed
tanks that do not require raised fl oors or traditional
air cooling. An investigation by Microsoft found that
two-phase immersion cooling had the potential to
reduce the power consumption per server by 5% to
15%. Considering this signifi cant advance in thermal
effi ciency, Microsoft found that they also had greater
fl exibility to address shifting demand, particularly sudden
spikes, as power can be allocated to servers in the
liquid-cooled tanks, which are capable of running at an
elevated power without the risk of overheating.2
Additionally, this enables much more effi cient use of
data center fl oor space by reducing the space allocation
necessary for large HVAC systems and hot/cold aisle
containment structures. Some theories hold that liquid
immersion cooling will precipitate a signifi cant reduction
in equipment failures. With these characteristics in
concert, liquid immersion cooling makes more feasible
the deployment of dispersed computing equipment that
can be deployed to remote locations and small cellular
communications facilities, for example.2 The high-density
racks that cryptocurrency mining operations are able
to deploy with liquid cooling may lead to smaller data
center footprints and lower energy consumption overall
if adopted by other data center owners and operators.
Reduced Energy Consumption and Renewables
Cryptocurrency is also serving as the catalyst for a
greener electrical grid and incentivizing the development
of renewable energy infrastructure. Regardless of
its decentralized nature, crypto is inseparable from the
beliefs and value systems of its stakeholders because of
how its value is determined on the market. Increasingly,
stakeholders of all stripes are establishing environmental,
social and governance (ESG) mandates that demand,
among other things, greater emphasis on sustainability.4
Additionally, as discussed in the fi rst column of this
series, ( " How Digital Currency Impacts Data Centers, "
July 2021, ASHRAE Journal) the economics of mining
inherently lead to seeking the cheapest and most effi -
cient use of energy. The fl exible nature of cryptocurrency
mining can provide a solution to some of the largest
challenges facing an increasingly renewable electric
grid.5 This same fl exibility offers cryptocurrency miners
novel and even " free " sources of energy that would otherwise
be wasted or discarded.
In particular, when compared to traditional data
centers, cryptocurrency miners are highly fl exible and
unique energy consumers.6 Large-scale traditional
data centers often require a stable, uninterrupted,
high-volume power supply. Their energy consumption
is often predictable and consistent over long periods.
Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, can generally be
mined anywhere with an internet connection and can
be paused/restarted with minimal effort at any time.6
Energy consumption at grid-scale in the U.S. is generally
predictable, commonly represented using the
" Duck Curve, " with peak consumption occurring in the
late afternoon before slowly declining into the early
morning.7 This oscillation in energy demand and the
corresponding generation represents one of the largest
challenges to grid-scale adoption of renewable energy.7
Though technological advancements in large-scale
energy storage continue, energy generally must be consumed
at the instant it is generated. This inherently
challenges power generators looking to implement
renewable energy sources, which are often inconsistent
and distant from the consumer.7
Cryptocurrency mining's fl exibility presents a complementary
solution to this challenge. Mining operations
can be paused and restarted on short notice, potentially
even in response to shifting renewable generation
capacity.6 Coordination with cryptocurrency miners
could allow utility providers to modulate demand
(demand-side management/control) in response to fl uctuating
generation from renewable sources over time.
This potential load shifting capacity could allow utility
providers to use more renewable energy sources for both
base and peak loads in place of traditional fossil fuel
sources.6 Additionally, as cryptocurrency can be mined
nearly anywhere with an internet connection, this same
coordination could colocate mining operations near
generating stations to limit transmission losses.
The profi tability of crypto mining operations, like
many data center operators, is directly correlated with
energy costs. Crypto mining's fl exible and mobile nature
allows operators to move to where energy is cheap and
abundant. Intuitively, this fl exibility could mean operating
from areas with below-average electricity costs but
can also be exploited further. Colocation cryptocurrency
mining operations with fossil fuel plants is one
such example of mining operations exploiting location
O CTO B E R 2 0 2 1 ashrae.o rg ASHRAE JOURNAL
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Intro
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 4
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 5
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 6
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 7
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR4
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR5
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR6
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR7
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR8
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR9
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR10
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR11
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR12
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR13
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR14
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR15
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR16
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR18
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR19
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR20
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR21
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR22
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR24
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover4
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