Friday, 11 September 2009

Green IT impact

Following on from my blog earlier in the week about the comments at the Fujitsu Executive Discussion Evening, it really should be a cause for concern in the industry that such a narrow view of Green IT, i.e. that it's about saving energy in the IT department, generally prevails.

I was reminded of the fact by some recent comments that Green IT is entering a new phase (unfortunately dubbed Green IT 2.0) because we are starting to see a wave of interest in Carbon Emissions Management Software (CEMS), a new IT solution.

In fact there are a range of opportunities in the market, many already being addressed. But what has defined the market in the short term is the economic climate. An understandable focus on cost cutting and a fast ROI means that short-term solutions, such as reducing the data centre energy bill, have been the focus, but there is a lot more in store.

In a report published more than a year ago I identified a number of areas of green IT, i.e. areas in which IT can help businesses and the community reduce the impact of climate change. These are:

• Carbon counting and management solutions

• Carbon economy systems, e.g. carbon reporting, compliance and trading

• New infrastructure/transport projects, e.g. road charging systems, public transport optimisation, etc

• Enterprise solutions: data centres, facilities management, logistics/transport

• Renewable energy generation and distribution, e.g. solar/wind-farm control systems

• Climate change opportunities, such as weather monitoring and reporting, impact assessments, risk management systems, business continuity, real-time information, etc.

With hindsight, the only change I would make is to emphasise smart grids as part of the infrastructure project opportunities.

At around the same time The Global e-Sustainability Initiative released the Smart 2020 report. The main thrust was that emissions from ICT in 2002 accounted for around 2% of the global total, but set to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7% from 2002 to 2020. But the opportunities identified in the report could lead to emissions reductions of five times that amount - 15% of total BAU (business as usual) emissions by 2020. The areas of opportunity were dematerialisation, smart buildings, smart power, smart industry and smart transport. This is where the focus needs to be.

Whilst the IT industry can help by reducing its own energy emissions and coming up with new and innovative solutions, it's as much (probably more) about the will to make the changes to processes and procedures, which will require IT input. Hence the potential impact of legislation.

It would be interesting to report more IT sector activity outside of reducing power from products and data centres, for instance IT solutions and success stories across the range of opportunities I listed above. If you have any, then put me on your mailing list.

© The Green IT Review

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