[One of the greatest challenges facing the planet is global warming.
Governments around the world are wrestling with various strategies on how
to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Carbon taxes are seen as the
best solution, but are meeting with stiff political resistance
particularly with the recent dramatic increases in gasoline prices. Cap
and trade systems are the other preferred approach, but also have
significant uncertainties in terms of their actual ability to reduce CO2
However, over the past couple of months a couple of new studies indicate
that the Internet and ICT can possibly have a bigger impact in reducing
CO2 than either carbon taxes and cap and trade systems. There is no
question that the Internet and ICT will play an important role in reducing
CO2 emissions, but the surprising development is the degree to which the
Internet and ICT might contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The first indication of the new found importance of the Internet and ICT
in reducing CO2 emissions was an economic modeling study done by Dr Yuji
INOUE, President & CEO The Japanese Telecommunication Technology
Committee, the results of which he presented at the ITU Summit on Green IT
in Kyoto this past April.
Dr Inoue demonstrated that it is possible for Japan to reach 90% of its
Kyoto targets strictly through the application of ICT. As with all
economic forecasting models there are lot of untested and unproven
assumptions, and this study is no different. But even if the application
of Dr Inoue’s models only result in 50% or even 25% of the Kyoto targets,
this is still a very, very significant development, and means that ICT
will still have the biggest impact in reducing CO2 emissions compared to
any other conventional approach such as carbon taxes and cap and trade.
The other study that indicates the significance of Internet and ICT was
just published by the Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability
Initiative (GeSI)and states that "The Smarter technology use could reduce
global emissions by 15 per cent and save global industry $US 800 billion
in annual energy costs by 2020.
The report – SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the
information age – is the world’s first comprehensive global study of the
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector’s growing
significance for the world’s climate.
The report’s supporting analysis, conducted independently by international
management consultants McKinsey & Company, shows that while ICT’s own
sector footprint - currently two per cent of global emissions - will
almost double by 2020, ICT’s unique ability to monitor and maximise energy
efficiency both within and outside of its own sector could cut CO2
up to five times this amount. This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes
of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 –greater than the current
annual emissions of either the US or China.
Although tele-working, video-conferencing, e-paper, and e-commerce are
increasingly commonplace, the report notes that replacing physical
products and services with their virtual equivalents (dematerialisation
and substitution) is only one part (six per cent) of the estimated low
carbon benefits the ICT sector can deliver."
One of the biggest contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by Internet and
ICT is through “virtualization” or “de-materialization” of existing
physical products and services. For business and universities this means
first virtualizing all their existing computers, databases and laboratory
equipment and using grids, clouds or “virtual” instances of the same
equipment at zero carbon data centers located at distant renewable energy
sites. It also means adapting new business process and procedures that
eliminate as much as possible the manufacturing and shipping of goods as
well as employee or researcher travel.
For consumers, this means delivery of movies, music, books and other
products as electronic equivalents delivered over broadband networks. The
elimination of power hungry PCs and printers to be replaced by solar
powered PDAs or similar devices is also essential. It also means the
development of new incentive and reward programs using electronic products
and service to reward consumers to reduce their carbon footprint in other
aspects of their daily life from driving the car to heating or cooling
If we adopt these techniques now it might be possible to achieve 50-90% of
the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that is required by 2020 to keep
the global temperature increase under 2C. For more details and other
detailed estimates please see my blog at
Green Internet and Cyber-infrastructure Overview
Governments around the world are wrestling with the challenge of how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The current preferred approaches are to impose carbon taxes and implement various forms of cap and trade. However another approach to help reduce carbon emission is to “reward” those directly who reduce their carbon footprint and complement their existing lifestyle. One possible reward system is to provide homeowners with free fiber to the home or free wireless products and other electronic services such as ebooks and eMovies if they deploy micro renewable energy sources for their ICT equipment and use eVehicles for energy transportation. Not only does the consumer benefit, but this business model also provides new revenue opportunities for small businesses, network operators, and eCommerce application providers.
Linking renewable energy with the Internet using eVehicles and dynamic charging where vehicle's batteries are charged as it travels along the road, may provide for a whole new "energy Internet" infrastructure for linking small distributed renewable energy sources to users. For more details please see:
How North American suburban sprawl could be the answer to global warning: http://goo.gl/UDz37
Free High Speed Internet to the Home: http://goo.gl/wGjVG
High level architecture of Building Zero Carbon Networks: http://goo.gl/juWdH
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
[Many telcos have undertaken initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, both as a cost saving measure, and also to show themselves as being good corporate citizens. But some telcos are starting to realize that these measures to reduce their own carbon footprint can also be an attractive business offering for their corporate customers. Large corporations face the same challenges as telcos with the high cost of power and the insatiable demand from IT for additional energy to power their ever growing number of servers. Governments are also starting to mandate public sector organizations to become carbon neutral, and soon may mandate private companies to be carbon neutral as well which is being further spurred on with the advent of carbon taxes.
Telcos are well suited to deploy zero carbon data centers in remote locations with plenty of cheap renewable power connected by high speed optical networks. BT is a good example where they plan to build COs powered by on-site windmills. These sites will not only serve BT's needs, but are also ideal for hosting customer's IT equipment as well. More importantly the telco and customer can earn valuable carbon offset dollars which can defray most of the expensive of locating servers at these sites. Some telcos are also following the lead of companies like IBM and Fujitsu and arranging for the brokering of carbon offset dollars for their customers who relocate IT equipment to their zero carbon data centers.
Using local generated renewable power is lot a cheaper than "wheeling" green power from the utilities. It also guarantees the telco and their customers a long term supply of cheap power with no threat of disruption or cost increases by the local utility.
Reduced carbon emissions is also a service that can offered to broadband residential customers, and is way of providing guaranteed revenue for the telco to pay for the fiber infrastructure that is necessary to support zero carbon applications. The telco is no longer dependent on the fickle revenues of triple play or the competitive threat of the "over top" players such as Google etc. Please see http://green-broadband.blogspot.com for details. Some excerpts from Converge Digest and Economist--BSA]
BT Plans 80% CO2 Reduction by 2020
BT announced a goal to cut its carbon emissions intensity by 80 percent across the globe by 2020 , setting one of the most aggressive corporate carbon reduction targets worldwide.
The company also published a new model for measuring and tracking carbon emissions – backed by the Carbon Disclosure Project. This represents an important step in measuring carbon emissions in a consistent way across the globe.
BT said it intends to meet the 80 percent reduction target through a continued combination of energy efficiency, on-site renewable generation (aiming for 25 per cent of its UK electricity to come from dedicated wind turbines by 2016) and purchased low-carbon electricity.
BT estimated that it has already reduced emissions in the UK by nearly 60 percent between 1996 and 2008.
The majority of worldwide CO2 emissions result from activities in the corporate sector, but up until now it has not been clear what targets an individual corporation needs to achieve to make its contribution to the international challenge. http://www.btplc.com 02-Jun-08
In October 2007, BT announced plans to develop wind farms aimed at generating up to 25% of its existing UK electricity requirements by 2016. The company expects to invest up to £250m in the project.
BT is one of Britain's biggest consumers of electricity, with an annual requirement of around 0.7% of the UK's entire consumption. The company said its wind farms could generate a total of 250MW of electricity – enough to meet the power needs of 122,000 homes or a city the size of Coventry.
BT is currently identifying high wind-yield sites on or adjacent to BT-owned land for development with the aim of generating power from 2012 onwards.
Down on the server farm
The real-world implications of the rise of internet computing
As computing becomes a utility, with services that can be consumed from everywhere and on any device, ever more thought is being put into where to put the infrastructure it needs.
Data centres are essential to nearly every industry and have become as vital to the functioning of society as power stations are. Lately, centres have been springing up in unexpected places: in old missile bunkers, in former shopping malls—even in Iceland. America alone has more than 7,000 data centres, according to IDC, a market-research firm. And each is housing ever more servers, the powerful computers that crunch and dish up data. In America the number of servers is expected to grow to 15.8m by 2010—three times as many as a decade earlier.
Companies have been packing ever more machines into data centres, both to increase their computing capacity and to comply with new data-retention rules.
As servers become more numerous, powerful and densely packed, more energy is needed to keep the data centres at room temperature. Often just as much power is needed for cooling as for computing. The largest data centres now rival aluminium smelters in the energy they consume. Microsoft's $500m new facility near Chicago, for instance, will need three electrical substations with a total capacity of 198 megawatts. As a result, finding a site for a large data centre is now, above all, about securing a cheap and reliable source of power, says Rich Miller of Data Center Knowledge, a website that chronicles the boom in data-centre construction.
And with demand for computing picking up in other parts of the world, the boom in data-centre construction is spreading to unexpected places. Microsoft is looking for a site in Siberia where its data can chill. Iceland has begun to market itself as a prime location for data centres, again for the cool climate, but also because of its abundant geothermal energy. Hitachi Data Systems and Data Islandia, a local company, are planning to build a huge data-storage facility. It will be underground, for security and to protect the natural landscape.
Yet it will not just be market economics that determines the shape of the clouds. Local governments give tax breaks in the hope that the presence of big data centres will attract other businesses (the computing plants themselves usually employ only a few dozen people
In future the geography of the cloud is likely to get even more complex. “Virtualisation” technology already allows the software running on individual servers to be moved from one data centre to another, mainly for back-up reasons. One day soon, these “virtual machines” may migrate to wherever computing power is cheapest, or energy is greenest. Then computing will have become a true utility—and it will no longer be apt to talk of computing clouds, so much as of a computing atmosphere.
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