Will create a Data Center
which highly fits to an ESG investment
For a sustainable future for data centers and digital infrastructure
Data center investment in Japan is booming, and demand is expected to continue to grow. On the other hand, we are facing the warning about the enormous power consumption. In addition, most data centers are concentrated in Tokyo and Osaka, and it is still difficult to realize the national policy, i.e. "optimal arrangement of data centers in Japan". We Digital Infrastructure Lab are here to support a project to develop and utilize data centers and * digital infrastructure for the stakeholders auch as land owners, data center operators, developers, investors, energy operators, data center related equipment manufacturers, government, local governments.
* Not limited to data centers, it covers the fields of e-commerce logistics facilities, digital-related laboratories, base stations / communication networks, and renewable energy facilities.
To realize "ideal" digital infrastructure investment
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Ireland plans to build data center using fuel cells
During a recent trade mission from Ireland to South Korea, a contract was signed between Irish development company LLUMCLOON Energy and a construction subsidiary of SK Group.
According to the Irish Times, the two companies are planning a “fuel cell-powered data center” in Ireland that will not be connected to the electricity grid and will use gas fuel cells.
What is a fuel cell?
A fuel cell is a device that uses energy to generate electricity.
A chemical reaction between a vehicle’s fuel (usually hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent such as oxygen. In particular, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operate at high temperatures and are highly efficient, but typically use hydrocarbon fuels such as natural gas.
This chemical energy is converted into electrical energy, which is expected to transition to hydrogen in the future as more environmentally friendly fuel sources advance.
SK plant advancing fuel cell development
SK Ecoplant, formerly known as SK E&C, is a construction subsidiary of the South Korean conglomerate SK Group, which owns companies such as SK Telecom and SK Hynix. In collaboration with Bloom Energy, based in San Jose, the company is currently advancing the development of fuel cell and hydrogen power generation facilities.
Ther are not only providing crucial technology but also taking on a comprehensive role in the construction of data centers.
The Potential of Fuel Cells in Data Centers
The demand for data centers is increasing. The energy consumption, strain on power grids, and carbon dioxide emissions from data centers have been the subject of much political debate in recent years.
While details regarding the development schedule and operational capacity are yet to be disclosed, this initiative represents a significant step forward for future green energy solutions in Ireland.
Major global tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon are also exploring fuel cell applications to power their data centers, signaling an industry-wide shift towards more sustainable backup and primary power sources.
The success of the plan could potentially set a benchmark for the future development of fuel cells in data centers across Europe, Japan, and other regions.
Microsoft is planning to switch its AI generation business data center hub to within Japan.
In July of this year, Microsoft announced a new policy. While Microsoft’s business data centers for AI generation were primarily located in the United States and Europe, in order to enhance service quality for Japanese customers and strengthen data management, they revealed the decision to switch all business data centers for AI generation applications of Japanese companies to be within Japan.
The background to this policy is that concerns have been raised regarding the management of sensitive and important information due to data center locations overseas.In a bid to address these concerns, Microsoft decided to conduct all data transactions within Japan.
Expanding the existing data centers in Eastern Japan to serve as hubs for AI generation will enable the processing of highly sensitive information solely within the country. Moreover, in line with the expansion of AI generation operations, Microsoft plans to consider expanding data centers located in Western Japan in the future.
Microsoft’s actions are impacting the entire industry, as seen in NEC’s initiation of new services utilizing data centers within Japan.
Headquarters for the Promotion of Digital Society also recognizes
Microsoft’s new policy has been recognized by the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Digital Society.
At a meeting of the working team on the use of AI, former Digital Minister Hirai, who was briefed on the new policy by Microsoft, expressed his view that “research and development is progressing rapidly in countries around the world, and Japan will have more promising options in terms of providing an environment.
Furthermore, Masaaki Taira, a member of the House of Representatives who chairs the working team, said, “If data centers are located overseas, security issues will arise, so the establishment of a base in Japan is an important proposal that will resolve one of our concerns.
The expansion of domestic data centers will resolve the biggest concerns regarding the use of generated AI by the government and various ministries. The announcement of this new policy is likely to increase expectations for the future development of generative AI.
Explore the topic of NVIDIA’s near-monopoly in the GPU market.
In this issue, we explore NVIDIA, an American semiconductor manufacturer that has been in the news since its market capitalization briefly reached the $1 trillion mark at the end of May this year.
About GPUs manufactured by NVIDIA
NVIDIA manufactures GPUs (image processing semiconductors), which are chips designed for display functions such as video, image, and animation display, and have been used in gaming PCs to display images smoothly. In recent years, GPUs have come into the limelight as the bearers of advanced arithmetic processing in automated driving technology and cryptographic asset mining operations.
Now, demand for these GPUs is growing. The catalysts for this are “data centers” and “generative AI” represented by ChatGPT.
GPU, generative AI and data center
Until now, it was common for data centers to be equipped with only CPUs (Central Processing Units), but with the spread of AI, data centers are increasingly being equipped with GPUs in addition to CPUs. However, only about 10-20% of data centers are equipped with GPUs.
However, the situation will change with the spread of generative AI.
Generative AI, such as image generation and natural language generation, requires a process called “inference,” in which an AI model created through training is run to reach a conclusion. The inference process requires more computation than the learning process. Therefore, it is necessary to have a GPU that is also suitable for a large amount of computation.
It is clear that generative AI will be the primary information-generating task in most of the world’s data centers in the future, and that within another decade, most of the world’s data centers will be equipped with GPUs.
In NVIDIA’s most recent quarterly results (May-July), sales in the data center division more than doubled in just three months, even though shipments are not keeping up with demand due to a severe supply shortage. Analysts expect the division’s revenues to exceed $60 billion in the next fiscal year (ending January 31, 2025), more than four times last fiscal year’s (ending January 31, 2023).
Why does Nvidia have such a strong lead?
Background to NVIDIA’s near monopoly on the GPU market
NVIDIA was positioned to advance AI very early on. In 2006, NVIDIA announced CUDA, a programming language for developers to write applications for GPUs. CUDA became an important component for subsequent AI projects.
CUDA eventually grew to include 250 software libraries used by AI developers, and this breadth effectively made NVIDIA the go-to platform for AI developers.
CUDA protects NVIDIA as a competitive “dig” that rivals can never overcome. In a July conference call hosted by Bernstein Research, former NVIDIA Vice President Michael Douglas noted that software is the key to NVIDIA’s ability to pull away from its competitors. He predicted that much of the performance improvement of Envidia’s systems over the next few years “will be software-driven, not hardware-driven.”
The key to Nvidia’s monopoly was software development.
For the time being, NVIDIA remains strong in the market.
For the time being, the market for GPUs for data centers is expected to be almost exclusively dominated by NVIDIA.
Nevertheless, competition is likely to intensify. In addition to competition with semiconductor manufacturers such as Intel and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) that already handle GPUs, giant IT companies such as Google, Amazon, and Meta are also beginning to develop their own AI semiconductors.
Along with the further evolution of generative AI and NVIDIA’s developments, we will also be keeping a close eye on other companies dealing with GPUs.
Utilization of geothermal heat in units of MW
When geothermal heat utilization is mentioned, “geothermal power generation” comes to mind, and instability is pointed out.
However, since geothermal heat always maintains a constant temperature, it can also be used for heating and cooling through heat exchange.
Digital Infrastructure Lab visited Mr. Masakatsu Sasada, an authority on the use of geothermal heat (President of the Association for the Promotion of Geothermal Heat Use), to learn more about how geothermal heat is being used.
There are examples of large hospitals utilizing MW units of geothermal heat for air conditioning, and inquiries to Mr. Sasada from general contractors and others have been increasing.
We also heard about popular data center sites and areas suitable for geothermal heat utilization.
We will continue our research in order to make use of this information in our concrete proposals.
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “Project for Strengthening Digital Infrastructure by Distributing Data Centers, Submarine Cables, etc. in Local Areas,” The Future of Data Center Business as Seen from the Results of the First Adoption.
List of Adopted Businesses
On June 27, 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) announced the results of the first round of public solicitation for the “Project for Strengthening Digital Infrastructure by Distributing Data Centers, Submarine Cables, etc. in Local Areas”.
The selected businesses are as follows
Ishikari Enedata Center No.1 LLC
Ishikari City, Hokkaido
Yahoo Japan Corporation
Shirakawa City, Fukushima
NTT Global Data Center
Optage Inc and KS Higashi Umeda, LLC
Osaka City, Osaka
Softbank Corporation and BBIX Corporation
Ikoma City, Nara
Internet Initiative Japan Inc.
Matsue City, Shimane
Fukuoka City, Fukuoka
What is the purpose of the public offering?
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has stated that the purpose of this public offering is to support the establishment of digital infrastructure such as data centers, submarine cables, and Internet access points (IX) in Japan, where large-scale earthquakes are expected to occur, and to develop robust communication network bases through decentralization, in order to contribute to the development of a “safe and secure” data hub from the perspective of economic security and other issues. The project will contribute to the development of a data hub that can store and process domestic and international data in a “safe and secure” manner from the perspective of economic security, etc.
Local Governments Want to Attract Data Centers
Prior to this, on April 12, 2022, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) published on its official website a list of sites that are open to the establishment of new data centers.
In order to optimize data center placement, we exchanged opinions with local governments that were interested in establishing new data centers, and more than 100 local governments proposed candidate sites.
What is the future of the data center business?
According to the latest forecast of the domestic data center service market by IDC Japan K.K. released in 2021, the data center market in Japan will be worth 2,798.7 billion yen in 2025, with an annual growth rate of 12.5% from 2020 to 2025. The market is expected to continue to grow on the back of demand for cloud computing.
According to the company’s survey, new data centers are expected to be built one after another for about four years starting in 2021, and the number of business data centers to be built during this period is expected to be around 200,000 square meters (equivalent to four Tokyo Domes) annually on a total floor area basis.
Keep an eye on this increasingly active data center investment.
We propose off-balancing based on our knowledge of digital infrastructure.
Investments in digital infrastructure, as typified by data centers, are extremely expensive and require a variety of information gathering, which often results in missed business opportunities due to lack of speedy decision making. To promote sustainable digital infrastructure investment in Japan, we at Digital Infrastructure Lab bring together people with practical experience in feasibility assessments, fund and asset management, construction and development, and data center operations.
We offer ESG investment proposals that benefit your company, focusing on off-balance sheet schemes based on our knowledge in the digital infrastructure area.
For more information.
Quotes and references.
Underwater Power Generator will start its operation in Japan soon.
We hear that the enormous amount of power consumed by data centers have a significant impact on investment sentiment to data centers.
It is critical to realize power supply generated by a sustainable and reliable renewable energy system.
Underwater power generation has the potential to be one of the solutions to this issue.
Unlike tidal power generators, the “Kaireyu” ocean current power generation system, which is in the stage of commercialization in 10 years, is an experimental machine designed to utilize energy from ocean currents. The current for generation moves slower, but exists more widely in the ocean.
This means that we can install more generators and can get renewable power in more sites.
Ocean current power generation is much more efficient than wind power generation, and not intermittent as solar power generation. Japan is not an ideal area for solar power generation, and it is difficult to install tidal power generators because of active exercises by the navies near Japan.
This report says that these troublesome give Japanese researchers more opportunities for this project.
Commitment of leading companies for sustainable data centers.
As the Earth is threatened by climate change, the entire world is accelerating its movement toward carbon neutrality.
Recently, many executives may have become interested in achieving ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) goals.
For those who are interested in ESG, we would like to introduce sustainable innovations and initiatives by companies that handle data centers, which require a lot of energy for power, air conditioning, and other operations.
The company announced the opening of its newest sustainable data center in Sweden.
The data center region is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, achieving zero waste certification, and operating on 100% carbon-free energy.
The fuel used in this data center is the world’s first Nordic Ecolabeled fuel, which contains more than 50% renewable raw materials and reduces carbon dioxide emissions nearly as much as standard fossil fuels.
This saves energy, water, and other resources, and reduces waste generation, making the facility a true embodiment of ESG goals.
A rainwater harvesting method has also been developed to provide water for humidification in data centers.
This method involves collecting rainwater at the data center and using it for equipment within the data center.
Other data center servers are cooled year-round with 100% outside air, contributing to ESG goals.
Swedish data centers are among the most sustainably designed and operated in the world, said Elaine Barnekow, general manager of Microsoft Sweden.
They have also launched a data center region in Arizona, USA, called “West US 3”.
As part of the theme of going carbon negative by 2030, this region has entered into a green energy power purchase agreement for the electricity used in all of its data centers.
To make this policy a reality, Microsoft has built the 150-megawatt Sun Streams 2 solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant.
Keep an eye on the future developments of Microsoft.
NTT Smart Connect plans to introduce a variety of energy-saving equipment at its Sonezaki Data Center (tentative name), which will be opened in April 2022 in the Dojima proximity area.
As for the breakdown of power consumption in a typical data center, it has been found that cooling equipment-related accounts for about 45%. They are trying to maximize the cooling capacity with an all-in-one package that includes a control panel and automatic control equipment.
In addition, it is a unique design that does not require a blowout chamber for construction, and by reversing the fan and cold water coils, it is possible to equalize the pressure in the fan room.
Therefore, it rectifies the airflow passing through the coil, making it possible to equalize the wind direction and wind speed distribution of the blown airflow.
They have also introduced our own high-efficiency EC fan that reduces power consumption by about 50%, and we can see a positive attitude toward energy conservation.
・Kyocera Communication System
The company aims to open a data center that uses renewable energy directly in Ishikari City, Hokkaido.
Plans are underway to send electricity directly from solar and wind power plants to the data center, and to use snow accumulated in the winter to cool the data center in the summer.
The Sony Group has developed an image sensor equipped with AI that can reduce power consumption in data centers.
The captured images are processed by AI, narrowed down to the necessary information, and sent to the data center. This is an epoch-making mechanism that reduces the network load and power consumption compared to sending image data as it is shot.
In addition to the above, sustainable data center initiatives are progressing rapidly around the world.
Keep an eye on future data center trends.
Working on Carbon Neutrality at Matsue Data Center Park Scheduled to Start Operation in May 2025 (IIJ)
Internet Initiative Japan Inc. (IIJ) announced on November 17 that it will build a new system module building within its own data center, Matsue Data Center Park (Matsue DCP), which has been operating in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture since April 2011. .
Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2024 and operations are scheduled to begin in May 2025.
The newly constructed system module building will have a construction area of approximately 2,000 square meters and a capacity of 300 racks.
In addition to utilizing it as a space for housing equipment for the IIJ cloud service, for which demand is growing, it will also serve as a data center to realize the “development of regional digital infrastructure,” one of the objectives of the Digital Garden City Nation Concept, as a regional network. It will also contribute to strengthening infrastructure.
Background of the establishment of the new “System Module Building”
This project has been selected and implemented as a subsidy target for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ fiscal 2021 supplementary budget “Digital infrastructure resilience project through regional distribution of data centers, submarine cables, etc.”
Matsue DCP is a modular data center that employs an external air cooling system, opened by IIJ in April 2011. The container-type IT module “IZmo”, which was developed by integrating IIJ’s DC operation know-how, achieves high server accommodation efficiency at low cost and easy scale-out.
In May 2019, the Shirai Data Center Campus (“Shirai DCC”), a system modular construction method that leverages the energy efficiency technology and operational experience gained at the Matsue DCP, is constructed and operated in Shirai City, Chiba Prefecture.
IIJ explains that the Matsue DCP and Shirai DCC will be used as a base for IIJ’s cloud and network services, as well as for its co-location service, where IIJ stores IT equipment for its customers, and that demand for its cloud services is continuing to increase, and that the use of co-location services for business continuity planning (BCP) is also expanding.
On the other hand, the government’s Digital Rural City Nation concept has promoted the decentralization of data centers to regional areas, and the need for regional DCs is increasing as digital implementation efforts, such as digital transformation (DX) and tourism DX, by small- and medium-sized regional companies are revitalized.
Under these circumstances, the Matsue DCP, which currently has approximately 500 racks, is expected to be fully occupied by the end of FY2025, which is why we have decided to construct a new “system module building” with higher capacity efficiency than container-type modules.
Introducing and demonstrating new facilities, aiming to solve social issues
The System Module Building uses an “outside air-cooled air-conditioning system” that reduces power consumption and “wall-blown air-conditioning” that enables efficient air conditioning.
In addition, they also focus on electrical facilities, maintaining the industry’s highest PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) level of “1.2”.
By adopting a three-phase, four-wire UPS for electrical equipment to reduce electrical losses, the company will continue to achieve a PUE of “1.2,” the highest in the industry, and fulfill its social responsibility as well as improve its service value.
In addition, Shirai DCC is promoting automation of data center operations by applying robot technology. Leveraging its prior achievements, Matsue DCP will also promote the introduction and demonstration of data center facility patrols using robot technology.
The Matsue DCP is aiming to become a model case of a carbon-neutral data center by introducing electricity derived from virtually renewable energy sources from February 2022.
They are in the process of strengthening our efforts to realize a carbon neutral data center by installing an on-site mega solar power generation facility and procuring power from an off-site power generation facility.
In the future, the data center is expected to utilize the power generation/storage facilities, etc. within the data center to build a micro-grid for local production and local consumption of electricity in cooperation with local governments and regional companies, thereby strengthening regional resilience and solving social issues such as carbon neutrality.
IIJ’s System Module Building is expanding the possibilities of Japan’s data centers, and interest is growing for its operational launch in 2025.
For the establishment and development of next-generation digital infrastructure
We are an asset management company established to promote investment in Japan for the assets in the digital infrastructure sector.
The development and acceleration of the digital & digital infrastructure mainly pulls economic growth, not only in Japan but also around the world. Meanwhile, digitalization in Japan is still lagging behind major Western and Asian countries (Japan ranks 27th in the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020). It has passed more than 20 years since the beginning of 21st century. In Japan, however, we could not have big innovation because the political, administrative, economic, and social systems have never broken away from their traditional ways. I believe this is one of the reasons why we are too much behind other advanced countries in this field.
Going back to the late 1990s, Japan experienced financial crisis following the bursting of the bubble economy. At that time, Western investment funds accelerated their investment to non-performing loans and real estate in Japan, and gained a lot. Japan was able to escape from the worst-case scenario and gradually set a roadmap for the revival of the Japanese economy. Although Japan gained a chance to go to direct finance from indirect, it has not yet been able to create the huge investment funds like those of western countries, middle east countries and Singapore. I believe that one of the reasons for this is the national character of the Japanese people. Our risk-taking sensitivity differs from that of continental peoples. But what about this situation from the fast-growing companies point of view which requires huge capital investments? If it is difficult to raise funds through indirect financing. Without the risk money to the project, there is no hope for the future growth of the Japanese economy, and that would take away the opportunities from many talented people and companies that are trying to create new business.
Now we are in the new trend under the economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis , the strong promotion of digitalization, the decarbonization, the change and diversification of people’s values, and the emphasis on SDGs and a symbiotic society.
We are working for the growth and acceleration of the digital infrastructure field, which is the backbone of the promotion of the digital field. Currently, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Deep learning are the must for digital field. However digital infrastructure has not been established yet to prepare for HPC (High Performance Computing) which is necessary for these two tech. The overall digital infrastructure, including high-performance data centers, edge data centers, and communication networks and base stations, needs to be established as soon as possible. Approximately 80% of Japanese data centers are concentrated in the Kanto and Kansai area from latency and access point of view. It is a problem from a BCP perspective. In addition more than 40% of existing data centers are more than 20 years old. Furthermore low-power data centers (2 kVA/rack or less), which cannot afford to deal with huge amount of data transaction for such as AI (these are at least 6 kVA/rack). kVA/rack or more), account for more than 60% out of all data centers. And the most important point is huge amount of money is required to establish digital infrastructure. It is said that it costs more than 3 million yen per “tsubo” for total floor space to build a new data center. Its cost is about three times as much as that of a popular office building. For example, the cost of a data center with more than 1,000 racks is 10 billion yen or more. It is not easy to decide this investment by considering the size of it. From this point of view, only a few large carriers and system integrators with strong financial background can build a data center in Japan. In order to overcome this issue, we strongly recommend the liquidation of real estate investment funds (off-balance sheet investment) with asset management services. In other words, by the separation of ownership and management, we can accelerate the investment in the digital infrastructure field. At the same time, it is necessary not only to promote investment, but also to give due consideration to the trend toward decarbonization. This means that investments in digital infrastructure must be positioned as ESG investments.
We would like to contribute to the establishment of Japanese next-generation digital infrastructure and economic development by promoting the investment to the Digital Infrastructure in Japan through our asset management service. Because we want to continue to be a essential company in digital infrastructure.
Wishing that we can make good relationship with stakeholders by getting their understanding and sympathy to our vision.
Digital Infrastructure Lab, Inc.