As an entirely lay person in all of this, I'm not sure if I'm suffering from "Dunning-Kruger" or whether I actually have something useful to say... but, here goes!
As I see it, a Data Centre is merely a place that generates a lot of heat, but must be kept (relatively) cool. All of this requires a lot of electricity.
Something of a conundrum!
I have heard stories of placing Data Centres in very cool places (a metaphorical 'open the doors and let the cold wind blow through'), of chasing low electricity costs by relocating active Virtual Machines to Centres where the electricity cost is lower (probably a 'follow-the-dark strategy), and so on.
But all these measures are all about disposing of the excess heat - it's treated as a waste.
However, surely it's a resource that might be harvested and re-used in the facility or elsewhere.
I've heard of small-scale projects where warm water from a Data Centre was pumped to nearby homes for heating, but that is only useful in winter!
Surely there are ways to capture the hot air coming out of the Centre and use it either to generate electricity or to store the heat in some other way. I challenge the engineers to tap into this energy cycle as a means of dramatically reducing power consumption.
In a similar fashion, we get a double-hit from solar panels on the roof. Not only do they capture solar energy and turn it into electricity, but the mere fact that they are on the roof doing so, means that the energy isn't translated to heat and pushed through the roof and into the building (be it a home, office or factory). This suggests that when installing solar panels, they shouldn't simply be a bunch of big rectangular blocks, but should come in all manner of shapes and sizes to more adequately cover a real roof shape.
If every roof was fully covered in panels, air conditioning costs would drop remarkably and also we'd have more stored electricity for other uses. As I said, a double-hit.
David Heath is a New Zealand-born Australian resident who initially pursued Geology and ended up with a Computer Science degree.