Wishing you all a green and prosperous 2012.
(I’ll be back in the New Year)
The Green IT Review is looking for a new home
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According to a report from SBI Energy, in 2010 the global market for services around the recycling and re-use (R&R) of e-waste was worth close to $6.8bn, up from $6.2bn in 2009. Industry growth is expected to continue at least through the next decade, with collection services alone more than tripling by 2020. The ‘E-Waste Recycling and Reuse Services Worldwide’ report estimates that in 2010, China and India have the largest market shares, in terms of value, with approximately 24% and 22% respectively.
The businesses services covered in the report are all those involved in purchasing, refurbishing, recycling and selling used (working or non-working), obsolete or surplus electronic and electrical, including everything from computers and mobile phones to refrigerators and microwaves, as well as components and parts.
The report points out that a piece of electronic equipment can take a complex route to its final end. An e-waste collector or dismantler may have little or no knowledge regarding the destination of its products. But this situation is changing as the regulatory framework becomes more established (at least in some regions).
The report says that industry growth is being spurred on by the growing amounts of e-waste being created around the world as the use of electronics accelerates. But the good news is the increasing recognition of the value of metals, such as lead, copper and gold, and other materials that can be profitably reclaimed from e-waste and reused.
I guess industry growth is also the result of increasing regulations on e-waste. For instance, the EU WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations are in the process of being strengthened and Australia has recently introduced its Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations on equipment collection and recycling.
The SBI report says that publicity of ‘backyard recycling’, with health and environmental consequences, has contributed to an increase in e-waste regulations and enforcement, as well as the scrutiny of environmental groups such as the Basel Action Network and Greenpeace. Consequently, ‘the e-waste R&R services market is being upheld to a higher standard, although this increased scrutiny has also hindered growth for many involved in the industry’. An odd comment - I guess the areas where scrutiny has hindered growth most are those where business relied on exploiting hazardous working conditions and damaging the environment!
According to a blog from Steve Kester, Director of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs at chip-maker AMD, the company is working on a project that could make data centre operations more energy efficient, cost effective and environmentally sustainable.
Kester says that AMD has been working on reducing the power consumption of servers in data centres for a long time. The current project is a partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Clarkson University, HP, and others. Driven by AMD’s External Research Office, the project is aimed at creating a distributed network of containerised data centres, such as HP’s energy efficient Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD) products, that are powered by carbon-free renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The data centres will be locating close to the wind turbines or solar arrays to improve the power transmission efficiency. By linking the data centres together with fibre optic data lines, information can be moved between them to take advantage of available renewable power. For example, if a wind-powered data centre was unable to operate due to low wind velocity its workload could be transferred to a solar-powered data centre that is getting plenty of sunshine.
According to Kester, moving bytes on fibre optic lines is more efficient and cheaper than moving electricity on transmission lines. The cost of fibre optic line installation is between $10,000-$30,000 per mile compared to power transmission line costs of up to $1m per mile. A saving for the power generator, the utilities and the data centre operators.
The first stage is a feasibility study which is being led by Clarkson university and due to complete in 2012. After that a demonstration project will be built to serve as a laboratory for testing different types of computer hardware, software, power supplies, energy storage and other equipment.
There are some resonances here with the report at the end of November that Dominion Energy Technologies has invested $1m in US data centre energy management software company Power Assure. Dominion Energy is an affiliate of Dominion Resources, one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the US.
By way of explaining the move, I said at the time that “One of the main reasons for needing smart grids is that renewable energy is increasingly part of the power mix. The grid needs to be able to accommodate a variety of variable inputs from these sources as well as better matching demand with supply, for example through the use of demand response tariffs, i.e. cheaper power at off-peak times when renewable energy is plentiful.
Given the power consumed by data centres, they may well be significant players in this smart grid future. For example, data centres could schedule their work to take advantage of favourable off-peak tariffs. Companies with multiple data centres could dynamically switch the computing load between locations to take advantage of tariffs elsewhere. Applications can already be easily and seamlessly switched between locations”.
AMD’s idea is a more direct version. By using modular data centres placed next to the actual renewable energy sources and interconnected by fast communications lines, the data centres can maximise the renewable energy use as well as benefitting from low tariffs when power is abundant.
Perhaps this is what Facebook should really be aiming for (see yesterday’s post)?
Facebook has succumbed to pressure from Greenpeace by announcing a goal of powering all its operations with clean and renewable energy. The company will also work with Greenpeace on promoting renewable energy, encouraging major utilities to develop renewable energy generation and enabling Facebook users to save energy.
It’s been two years since Greenpeace launched it’s ‘Unfriend Coal’ campaign, which resulted in 700,000 people calling on Facebook to power its data centres with clean energy instead of coal. As a result of this new collaboration between the two organisations, the Greenpeace campaign has now been dropped.
As part of the agreement, Facebook, supported by Greenpeace, will continue research into energy efficiency, sharing that technology as part of the Open Compute Project, an industry group working on the most efficient server, storage and data centre hardware designs for scalable computing. Facebook also plans to talk with utility providers about the sources of energy that power their data centres.
Greenpeace and Facebook have also agreed to ‘develop and promote experiences on Facebook’ to help people and organisations save energy and engage their communities in clean energy issues.
I’ve reported several times on the Greenpeace pressure on Facebook, which has grown over the last year. In fact in the run up to Earth Day this year Greenpeace called on Facebook to do pretty much what it has now done, i.e. use more clean energy, educate its users and advocate the use of clean energy.
However, it’s not clear exactly what Facebook is committed to, in terms of clean/renewable energy use. It’s expressed in terms of a goal, rather than a specific target. Marcy Scott Lynn, of Facebook's sustainability program, said “Facebook looks forward to a day when our primary energy sources are clean and renewable, and we are working with Greenpeace and others to help bring that day closer. As an important step, our data centre siting policy now states a preference for access to clean and renewable energy”. That’s pretty vague.
It could have been a lot more explicit, with targets and dates, but I suppose it’s a step in the right Green ICT direction.
Faronics, which sells a range of computer management and utility software products, last week released the results of a green IT survey in the UK. It revealed that 40% of organisations do not have any green IT policies in place and only 27% consider themselves to be a green organisation in terms of IT efficiency. Of those that had no green IT policies, almost half blamed the time required to develop, implement and enforce the strategies.
The results came from a survey of 1000 employees from a range of organisation sizes in the public and private sector. It was conducted by One Poll in November - the full survey results are here.
The main reason for having green IT policies is cost savings, as you might expect, cited by 48%. But for those without policies, it was the time to implement and the effort to maintain it that stands in the way of green IT – cited by almost 80%.
Just 27% of UK organisations consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and reputation to be the primary reason for enforcing a green IT policy. But Faronics points out that this may change with the release of the Carbon Trust’s annual CRC Performance League Table (PLT) earlier this month. “This proportion is bound to rise as the CRC’s naming and shaming of underperforming companies begins to have an impact on brand reputation,” said Bimal Parmar, VP of Product Marketing at Faronics.
I’m not sure that the CRC performance table would have an impact on these results, given that 57% of responses were from companies with less than 100 employees. Few of those will be in the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme.
What I continue to be surprised about is the 42% of respondents that had no policy requiring employees to switch off or put their workstations into a low-power mode when not in use. It’s not unexpected, it just seems so short-sighted that more companies have not implemented a policy and/or installed PC power management software. (Faronics sells a PC power management product, which is why they asked the question). In the case of this survey, 22% said that most people in their company never turn their computers off at all.
With payback typically measured in thee to six months and the potential to implement agent-less software, i.e. nothing is installed on individual machines, just the central server, implementation is easy and the savings can be large. There’s certainly a lot of education still needed out there, although I suspect it’s the smaller companies that have yet to recognise the benefits.
Athens-based company CO2 Neutral Seal, part of environmental services firm Greenevolution SA, has announced the launch of CO2NS Website, ‘an innovative new product that makes a website carbon neutral through its visitor statistics’. It’s basically a means to offset the emissions created by your web site.
The service uses Google Analytics API to carry out a daily analysis of a company’s website, including its visitor statistics. The website’s CO2 footprint is then estimated based on server usage and visitors statistics. Based on these calculations, carbon credits are allocated to the website.
All users have to do is set up a Google Analytics account to link to the application via co2ns.com. They get a an online summary of their website’s status together with a detailed report from the CO2 Neutral Seal system - an online summary of CO2 Website status is also available to the public. Prices start from €99/year and ‘several leading global companies’ are already signed up.
Well, firstly I would like to know more about what’s being offset here. Are the analytics simply being used to estimate the server usage, or are the number of people connecting to the web site also being used to calculate the internet emissions? If it’s the latter, then it’s at least a novel approach to cover emissions that are outside the control of whoever is running the website servers.
But either way, as regular readers will know, I’m not a fan of carbon offsetting. There is very little information on the web site about how the emissions are offset, but in any case, it should be a last resort. Offsetting doesn’t always help reduce emissions and is not a viable, long-term solution.
It’s much better to reduce your own emissions than pay someone else to do it. In any case, you can probably do a lot better in-house, with some green ICT initiatives that can have rapid payback. Do you have PC power management, do you share printers, can you increases server virtualisation? There are many ways you can reduce your ICT emissions with very little effort.
It’s something I’ve been going on about for years. If you really want to know more, sign up for a training session/workshop and The Green IT Report can tell you how.
There are a considerable number of smart grid initiatives across Europe, but only this year has there been any attempt to make a full inventory of what’s going on, which has limited the ability to share project information and experiences. Now summary information from all the collected projects is available online via a new mapping tool. The map is the first comprehensive inventory of Smart Grid projects in Europe.
The impetus came from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy (DG Ener) who asked the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) to investigate. The JRC Smart Electricity Systems Action launched a survey to collect smart grid experiences in Europe and support analysis on trends and developments in Smart Grids implementation.
The summary information is shown in the map, but there is also an analysis of projects in Smart Grid projects in Europe: lessons learned and current developments, co-authored by DG ENER and JRC. It includes detailed analyses of the smart grid landscape and assesses in which direction Europe is moving in the field of smart grids.
If you’re involved in smart grids the map is an interesting summary. However, one of the findings was that there is a need for improvements in data collection/exchange. These include a common definitions, terminology, categories and benchmarks. There is also a lack of quantitative data to perform cost-benefit
But the JRC says it is working at developing a complete cost-benefit analysis for smart grids, pointing out that a structured approach has not yet been tested on a concrete case study. The EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) has done the most advanced work in the area and the JRC is planning to adapt the EPRI methodology to the European context and is selecting case studies to test it.
Well, given the amount of money that’s going to be poured into smart grids across Europe in the coming years a good cost-benefit analysis is sorely needed. It would make interesting reading for the UK, for example. The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK government department that scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament, published a report in July that highlighted the uncertainties of consumer benefits in implementing smart meters, because of lack of evidence. The NAO believes the risk is compounded by potential cost increases, the challenges of delivering a fit-for-purpose and secure system and the risk that suppliers do not pass on all the savings to their customers. Another view would be useful.
In a follow-up to my post on Monday about weather disasters, Intel has announced that the company's fourth-quarter results are expected to be below previous expectations due to hard disk drive supply shortages. The main reason for the shortage of drives is the floods in Thailand in October and November. No drives means fewer PCs and servers being manufactured which means fewer chips needed. Intel now expects fourth-quarter revenue to be $13.7bn, lower than the previous expectation of $14.7bn.
The company expects hard disk drive supply shortages to continue into the first quarter, followed by a rebuilding of microprocessor inventories as supplies of hard disk drives recover during the first half of 2012.
The disastrous floods in Thailand killed hundreds of people and also caused disruption to a number of hard disk manufacturers, including Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. According to The Guardian, world production is expected to fall by about 30% in the fourth quarter.
Following the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, which also disrupted supplies of components across a number of technology industries, including smartphones, this is another reminder of how we are reliant on global supply chains. These events may not themselves be due to climate change, but they are a reminder of the impact of the sorts of extreme weather events that global warming will bring.
ICT can help track weather threats and in various ways help prepare for, and mitigate against, the inevitable impacts of climate change. It’s an important aspect of Green ICT, so it’s rather ironic that the ICT industry itself seems so vulnerable. If the industry really wants to be seen as part of the climate change solution, perhaps this is an area of its own business that it should look at more closely.
Cleantech market research firm Pike Research has predicted that global investment in smart (intelligent) transportation systems will total $13.1bn between 2011 and 2017. This is a broad industry sector, though, including various areas of transport, such as passenger vehicles, roads, vehicle chargers, and transit fleets, controlled by various agencies or private entities and designed to achieve a range of policy and operational goals.
In fact most of this investment will be in intelligent traffic management systems, the sector with the broadest range of potential applications and relevant to virtually all cities. Increased interest from developing countries is expected in the latter part of the forecast period.
Smart transportation technologies bring a lot of benefits, including enhance mobility, reduced fuel consumption, lower emissions and improved safety. So it’s no surprise that cities, public transport operators and fleet managers are looking to invest - smart transport is seen as a way to maximise existing transportation systems without major new investment.
As the Smart Transportation Systems report points out, the common enabling factor is embedded intelligence, which allows the vehicles and infrastructure to communicate and to respond to outside management and external conditions. That’s where the Green ICT factor comes in.
The Smart 2020 report detailed the savings in carbon emissions that could be made from the use of ICT in logistics and transport. Optimising logistics using ICT could result in a 16% reduction in transport emissions and a 27% reduction in
storage emissions globally. But what drives this market is the fact that smart transport brings other benefits. As well as making savings in fuel costs, transport moves more quickly and safely. For many transport operators, particularly public transport, it’s a good place to put your money when there’s not much of it around.
In its latest monthly weather analysis the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that the US has set a record with a dozen billion-dollar weather disasters this year, causing total damage of $52bn. The monthly analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.
This 2011 disaster count breaks the previous record of nine such events in one year, which happened just three years ago in 2008. And 2011 is not even over yet. There have been other extreme events this year, including the winter storm that impacted the Northeast and the wind/flood damage from Tropical Storm Lee, but, as yet, these events are not over the $1bn threshold.
The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the US environmental action group, has gone even further by saying that in 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US.
The organisation has released an interactive extreme weather mapping tool to show what events hit what areas from January to October 2011. It “allows Americans to draw the connections between climate change and extreme weather in the cities and towns in which they live”.
NRDC weather survey found at least 1,302 heat-related records, 1,090 rainfall records and 549 snowfall records were broken in counties across the US. Especially hard-hit regions include the Midwest and Northeast, which endured heavy flooding and the greater Texas region, which endured an extended period of wildfires, extreme heat and drought.
All this is after the recent release of a summary of the Special Report on Extreme Events from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – the full report is due in February. The summary report concludes, with varying degrees of confidence, that by the end of the 21st century there will be substantial warming in temperature extremes, the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase, tropical cyclone wind speed will increase and droughts will intensify.
The evidence and warnings of extreme weather are now coming from all directions and make scary reading. It’s interesting to note that at least the impacts are being recorded in the US, although it’s only the NRDC that makes the climate change connection. (Maybe if the final episode of the recent David Attenborough ‘Frozen Planet’ TV series, which showed the dramatic impact of global warming on the North and South Poles, had actually been shown in the US the message may have got across).
But the point is that the world has to manage this increasing number of extreme weather events as the climate changes. The IPCC report included the graphic below, which shows options for managing the risks posed.
ICT has a significant role to play in most of these strategies, enabling organisations of all sorts, governmental or commercial, to continue to function.
Globalisation has been a business driver in recent years, but globalisation also increases vulnerability to these disasters as supply chains spread across the world. An important aspect of green IT is to support businesses in managing the risk that global climate change brings through greater resilience and adaptability. That includes weather monitoring and reporting, risk management systems, impact assessments, business continuity, and so on.
Last week data centre company Telehouse announced that it's London Docklands data centre site ‘now purchases 100% renewable energy’ from UK provider SmartestEnergy. The data centre houses the IT infrastructure of almost 500 major international organisations.
SmartestEnergy is the UK’s leading purchaser and supplier of electricity from independent generators. The renewable energy it provides to Telehouse comes from projects throughout the UK using a variety of sources including wind, solar, hydropower and anaerobic digestion.
It’s a further step for Telehouse in its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. The Telehouse London sites have already been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard, which certifies that an organisation has measured, managed and reduced its carbon emissions across its own operations and is committed to further reductions in the future.
Tokuji Mitsui, managing director of Telehouse and KDDI Europe, pointed out that "The majority of electricity supplied to us is utilised by our clients, therefore it is integral that we take on initiatives such as the 100% green energy supply, which in turn benefits our customer's credentials by reducing their carbon footprint. We intend to roll out this green partnership initiative with SmartestEnergy to all our European sites in the near future."
Well the press release is not absolutely clear. Some energy may be 100% renewable (in the UK ‘green’ energy is sometimes only that with a high renewable proportion), but it may not mean that all your energy comes from renewable sources. In this case, though, it does seem that Telehouse London now only uses renewable energy.
It will certainly make it easier for customers to assess their ICT carbon footprint with the knowledge that there are no Scope 3 (indirect) emissions from this part of their external service delivery. Among the sort of customers that Telehouse has, the question about supplier emissions will certainly have started to be asked.
According to research from Verdantix, CA Technologies, CarbonSystems, IBM and Verisae are the leading providers in the enterprise-scale energy management software market. The finding comes from the company’s Green Quadrant Energy Management Software 2011 report, which benchmarks 15 applications selected from more than 60 identified globally.
It’s an in-depth analysis based on live product demonstrations, supplier responses to a 115 point questionnaire and in-depth interviews with buyers of energy management software representing firms with combined revenues of $306bn.
The report also notes a number of fast-moving new entrants to the market, including C3, Hara, Infor, JouleX and SAP. Verdantix says that these suppliers have strong product roadmaps and innovation strategies (Joulex is a company that I have reported on several times this year already).
However, David Metcalfe, Verdantix CEO, said that “In the scramble to win market share in the enterprise-scale energy management software market some suppliers adopted a ‘boil the ocean’ product strategy offering functionality for every conceivable energy domain. Our research suggests that a product strategy focused on one or two energy domains is the most successful for suppliers and their customers”.
The research also forecasts that the US market for energy software will be worth $660m in 2014 and will reach a 51% compound annual growth rate over the five years from 2010 to 2014.
Well the market growth rate predicted by the report shows just why this is an attractive and competitive green IT sector. Any annual compound growth rate of over 50% is almost unheard of in these economic times.
But the finding that it’s better to focus on one or two energy domains is interesting. There has certainly been an inclination in the market, at least among ‘pure-play’ suppliers, to try and be all things to all people. If Verdantix is right then it’s not the best strategy. Companies like CA and IBM have a focused market approach and sector experience to back their solutions and also benefit from having the scale for global deployment of solutions.
The Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) has published a white paper on network power management. Called Power Management for Networking Devices, the paper is the second of three produced to help organisations design, specify and manage networks that are optimised for energy efficiency.
This paper addresses device power management and control and describes the importance of monitoring the power and performance characteristics of networking devices and communicating the information to network management systems. It also looks at opportunities to better design systems and devices for improved power savings and considers how application behaviour and resource use interact with energy use in networking devices.
One of the conclusions is that the design of energy efficient systems is a collective responsibility of system designers, developers, network infrastructure managers and anyone else involved in the design and operation of network systems and that power management and control is a key element. Only through understanding the power consumption of the network can you optimise its performance and make real savings in cost and meet green IT objectives without compromising network performance.
CSCI is a global consortium dedicated to reducing the energy consumption of end-to-end computing. The organisation was set up in 2007 and is led by Cisco, CSC, Dell, Emerson Network Power, Google Inc., HP, Intel, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, and the World Wildlife Fund, but now has nearly 700 members.
The three white papers in the series are:
Considerations for Selecting Power Supplies for Networking Equipment and Evaluating Power Conversion Efficiency
Power Management for Networking Devices
Energy Efficiency Guide for Networking Devices
The idea is that together the papers will direct system designers, IT managers, and IT procurement professionals to design, purchase, install, and manage energy efficient networks.
Well there’s nothing new in the headline conclusion – what you can’t measure you can’t manage, but the CSCI goes into more detail in this 18-page white paper. It does also make the point that to create a really energy efficient network (something often overlooked in green IT discussions) needs the buy in of everyone involved.
A useful resource – the white papers, or at least the ones published so far, are available from the CSCI.
According to a survey from IT services company CSC, the primary driver for companies adopting cloud computing is the desire to connect employees through a multitude of computing devices. A third of respondents said this was the most important reason for moving to the cloud.
The survey results are detailed in the CSC Cloud Usage Index. It’s based on responses from 3,645 IT decision makers in eight countries — Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US. Respondents all had experience implementing cloud computing within their organisations.
The other main reasons for cloud adoption are to accelerate the speed of business, chosen by 21% of respondents, and cutting costs (17%). While sustainability doesn’t emerge as a significant driver, 64% of organisations say that adopting cloud computing has helped them reduce waste and lower energy consumption.
There’s lots of other information in the study, including the fact that only 14% of companies downsized their IT departments after adopting cloud while 20% hired more cloud experts! Nevertheless, 82% of all organisations saved money on their last cloud adoption project, although savings tend to be small.
There is analysis by company in the survey, which for the UK revealed that:
82% of UK organisations see benefits from the cloud in under 6 months - 38% see benefits immediately.
Almost half (49%) cite increased data centre efficiency and utilisation as the number one benefit from adopting cloud.
More than half (54%) of small businesses cite information access from multiple devices as a leading factor in moving to the cloud. But 63% of them say their total cost of delivering enterprise services stayed the same after implementing cloud services.
I guess the main surprise here is that cost doesn’t come out more strongly as a reason for moving to the cloud. It’s more about ensuring everyone is connected and can get on with their work wherever they are. The fact that it doesn’t reduce the number of IT staff, and sometimes involves hiring more cloud experts, reinforces the point.
Data centre efficiency does come out as a benefit, though, which should have a positive impact on energy use and emissions, and the green advantages in general are acknowledged. But the ability to reduce internal IT infrastructure and hence save money doesn’t come through as an incentive from the survey responses, which suggest that the move to cloud computing has less of a green pay-back than we would have hoped.
French mobile phone company SFR is introducing a ‘paper’ SIM card which is biodegradable and recyclable. Developed by Oberthur Technologies, a French chip card company, apart from the microcontroller itself it consists entirely of natural wood fibres.
Apparently the card performs in the same way as the usually plastic-based versions, but being wood-based has a reduced environmental impact. Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are 30% less, according to research from SFR.
The card was launched on November 17 with a pilot involving 10,000 cards for new or renewing SFR customers.
Last year the company introduced biodegradable plant-based plastic for its SIM cards, made from a renewable material derived from corn, sugarcane or potato starch. Now it seems to have gone one stage further. The new card apparently only saves about six grams of CO2e per customer (according to greenIT.fr), equivalent to 132 tonnes of CO2e across all SFR customers. But, as they say, every little counts.
A guest post from Chris Smith, Sales and Marketing Director, on365
As enterprises examine mounting energy bills and ask if their IT really delivers, there has been a big push to re-engineer UK business systems and their underlying IT infrastructures to be more energy efficient. The data centre in particular has come under scrutiny owing to their high energy consumption rates that according to reports, amount to between 2.4-3.1% of the total energy consumption in the UK. By 2020, it is predicted that carbon emissions from data centres will have quadrupled.
The need to adjust business operations while ensuring continual availability of core applications, has forced IT and facility managers to look for innovative ways to be ‘green’ and cut costs. Coupled with new taxation such as the CRC EES, and rising energy costs, data centre manufacturers are developing key tools to help data centres run more efficiently.
The potential energy saving is vast, which isn’t surprising, given that the maximum power used by UK data centres annually is enough to power six million homes. The green dilemma has been brought into the spotlight due to the potential reputational risk from services ‘falling over’ and tighter regulations forcing operators of data centres to adopt more efficient operations, data centre managers need to quickly get to grips with it all.
American industry body ASHRAE has taken a big step towards reducing energy usage in the data centre. It’s Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments, include running certain types of data centres at hotter operating temperatures and humidity levels than is currently the norm. ASHRAE’s guidelines, if properly implemented, could pave the way for increased savings in the data centre with the upper limit raised to 45˚C for short-term periods. The industry has witnessed new monitoring, cooling and powering tools with manufacturers such as Dell and HP leading the way.
The unofficial yardstick for measuring a data centre’s energy efficiency is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). Although it has brought credibility to infrastructure operational practices, PUE does not offer a transparent or detailed picture of a data centre’s computing workload and energy use. The industry is moving beyond these first generation measures to a more integrated monitoring approach, particularly data centre infrastructure management (DCIM). DCIM integrates IT and facility management to create a centralised process that is able to monitor and manage systems in real-time across all aspects of the data centre. This allows IT and facility managers to achieve a far more effective analysis of data centre power usage, which in turn will improve corporate decision-maker understanding of equipment performance and power usage in their data centres.
Despite the hype surrounding the building of data centres in areas of spectacularly low ambient temperatures, including the Arctic Circle, it isn’t necessary to go to such extreme lengths to reduce energy demands and green your facility. In the UK it is possible to make use of innovations such as adiabatic or fresh air cooling methods to maintain consistent temperatures in the data centre. When one considers that cooling systems in the data centre account for around 44% of total energy consumption it shows the potential for organisations to make considerable energy savings.
In the wake of rising energy costs, increasing compliance and environmental pressure, data centre managers need to come together and opt for more efficient, less energy-wasteful strategies.
Logica has announced that security-specialist QinetiQ is to join the Logica/SAP partnership bidding to become the data services provider to the Data and Communications Company (DCC), part of the UK’s smart meter rollout.
QinetiQ provides technology-based services and solutions to the defence, security and aerospace markets. Joining the partnership will give the UK government added reassurance about the ability of the bid to address the concerns about security and privacy in handling the data generated by the 50 million devices delivered as part of the smart meter rollout. The system has to be ready to support the official start of the five year rollout programme in 2014.
The smart metering infrastructure is aimed at delivering new services that will put consumers in control of their energy spend (although there remains some doubt as to whether it will be worth the cost). But a key aspect is gaining consumer trust in the programme by ensuring that their data will be secure. Logica is hoping that bringing QinetiQ on board will provide that assurance (particularly since Logica is also working with QinetiQ on a £157m outsourcing deal with the Serious Organised Crime Agency).
Bringing QinetiQ on board looks like a shrewd move. Not only does QinetiQ help with the security concerns, but its also a UK company, which is likely to be a help with any bid in the current economic climate (given recent criticisms of government projects going to non-UK companies).
The contract that Logica is bidding for is expected to be worth around £150m (the contract limits are £60-£240m). But it partly depends on the nature of the bid – suppliers can specify a duration of between five years (with options to extend) to 12 years.
The PQQ is closed and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is now carrying out the organisational assessment. It’s expected that up to seven companies will be selected to go forward in the procurement process for the data services part of the DCC, which is what this Logica-led group are going for. The procurement is expected to be complete in Q4 2012 or Q1 2013.
Given its history in the energy market, the security reassurance of this announcement and the high UK company element of the bid, Logica must be in with a good chance.
According to a report from Pike Research the global market for energy efficiency services and equipment in buildings will exceed $100bn by 2017.
With buildings one of the largest energy users, the building stock is a target for governments looking to reduce power use. There are many energy efficiency improvements available for buildings, from high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to the use of energy-efficient lighting technologies. There is also an increasing use of energy performance contracting (EPC) where various energy saving projects from energy service companies (ESCOs) are financed through the guaranteed savings.
The net result, according to Pike’s “Energy Efficient Buildings: Global Outlook” report is that the global market for energy efficiency products and services in buildings will reach a massive $103.5bn by 2017, an increase of more than 50% from the 2011 market value of $67.9bn.
The study forecasts that the ESCO market will represent the largest segment, with revenues more than doubling from $30.1bn in 2011 to $66.0bn worldwide by 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 14%. Significant growth will also occur in the market for high-efficiency HVAC systems, which will expand from $3.1bn to $6.4bn during the same period.
The report does point out, though, that demand for services and technologies depends on national policy, technology costs and historical/cultural preferences. Hence the structure of the energy efficient building markets varies considerably between countries and regions.
Regular readers will be aware that more energy-efficient facilities management is one of the key ‘enabling’ areas of green ICT. It’s second only to smart grids in its ability to abate carbon emissions by 2020, according to the Smart 2020 report.
There’s a lot of energy-saving infrastructure that ICT can help with, such as control systems and sensors, but there is now also an increasing focus on intelligent analytics to identify the best place to make savings. For instance, this year we have reported on:
FirstFuel Software, a US company that provides software to analyse the energy use of commercial property. It uses electric and gas usage data from utilities with weather and climate data and GIS- mapped building characteristics to produce a view of how energy is being used inside the building and benchmarks it against similar buildings to come up with recommendations for saving energy.
Australian energy management software company BuildingIQ has a solution that predicts energy demand and adjusts HVAC systems to optimise energy use. A central thermal model learns a building's energy performance and then adapts to changes in internal or external conditions. It factors in weather forecasts, occupant comfort, peak demand factors and demand response signals to minimise energy cost and consumption.
Taking it one stage further, UK-based aerial mapping company Bluesky produces thermal maps of buildings that can be used to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. It also has a solution that uses geographic data to assess how suitable individual buildings are for solar energy generation.
These are just a very small sample of a wide range of solutions aimed at helping to reduce energy use in buildings. It’s a great example of where the increased use of ICT can make a significant difference in reducing emissions. And, don’t forget, they also save a great deal of money!