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
Friday, October 31, 2008
Few people involved with broadband or cyber-infrastructure understand the potential impact of cap and trade on their operations. Cap and trade can be a significant cost to universities and broadband operators, but it also, paradoxically can be a huge financial opportunity to underwrite the costs of these very important infrastructures.
Telecom is a major consumer of power and emitter of GHG emission (Scope 2). British Telecom, for example, claims they are the largest single power consumer (and hence GHG emitter) in the UK. Australia has recently discovered that new proposed national broadband architecture, using antiquated VDSL technology, will require the energy output of 5 new power plants. A typical university produces somewhere between 200,000 to 500,000 metric tons (mT) of CO2 of which anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 mT can be attributed to campus ICT and cyber-infrastructure.
Cap and trade is essentially a hidden carbon tax. Although there are many complexities to cap and trade, and the details of the US cap and trade are not known, it has the potential to impose a huge financial burden on telecom operators and universities. Initially Australia and USA are likely to have much lower cap price and the impact will be very much dependent at what level they set the “cap” , but over time the cap will be lowered and the price of CO2 that exceeds the cap will rise. Europe next year is proposing to set the price of cap and trade CO2 at $100 per mTon. So do the math people!!! This can have a huge cost on your current operations in terms of increased cost of energy. We are talking millions, if not billions of dollars here.
But as I mentioned earlier, cap and trade (as well as much more efficient carbon taxes) can also be a significant financial opportunity for network operators and university cyber-infrastructure. The dollar amounts being talked about are staggering – trillions of dollars in carbon offsets are expected to exchange hands in the coming years with cap and trade. With this kind of money, not only could you bail out the all the banks in North America, but you could also pay for all sorts of national policy programs like national broadband, healthcare, cyber-infrastructure etc etc.
Chinese entrepreneurs, so far, have been the biggest beneficiaries of cap and trade – last year they earned $7.3 billion dollars in carbon offsets from the European cap and trade system. It baffles me that exalted American entrepreneur is nowhere is to be found in making money from this business!!
Universities and telecom operators need to understand how cap and trade works now. Cyber-infrastructure and broadband are the ONLY technologies where we can achieve significant reductions in our respective carbon footprints at our institutions and networks. But it is imperative that you deploy the right architectures. Point to point home run fiber may be more expensive than VDSL, but its carbon footprint is significantly less. More importantly the cost differential between P2P home run versus VDSL can be easily be paid for through carbon offsets (if not the entire cost of the fiber) because of its smaller footprint. Home run fiber will also enable the new high speed applications like tele-presence, etc that might enable the network operator, or consumer, to earn additional carbon offsets or carbon credits.
Zero carbon data centers, cyber-infrastructure facilities and central offices powered by renewable energy will also enable universities, businesses and telecom operators to earn billions of dollars in carbon offsets. Virtualization, clouds and SOA will be critical to this strategy. To learn more please see these week’s issue of the Economist special feature on corporate IT.
But to earn these valuable dollars you have got to understand the ISO and WRI processes for measuring and accounting for GHG emissions. Simple claims of increased energy efficiency, turning off computers or printers is NOT enough and will not be eligible for carbon offsets. You must plan for a zero carbon architecture if you want to earn valuable carbon offset dollars.
Many economists are starting to recognize that we must help those with distressed mortgages if we are going to quickly recover from this financial crisis (see this week’s Economist Oct 26). Bailing out the banks will not be sufficient to restore confidence in the economy. There are many proposals on how to help those out who face big increases in their mortgages where the value of the house is significantly below that of the mortgage itself. Carbon credits earned from carbon offsets may be one way to address this problem. Home owners would help the planet by reducing their carbon footprint and the extra money spent on heating or transportation because of cap and trade, or carbon tax could be credited to their mortgage account, instead of being sent to the government, or worse Clean Coal. In fact I would suggest that mortgage payments be made directly with the carbon credit where the bank would have to its own carbon reduction in order to convert the credit to real cash. For more details please see http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/2008/09/carbon-credits-instead-of-carbon-taxes.html
What is the biggest obstacle to this future nirvana of carbon offsets through cap and trade? Clean Coal.
The Clean coal coalition will fight tooth and nail to prevent or emasculate cap and trade, as they are the biggest contributors to global warming. One ton of coal produces almost 3 tons of CO2. They are the enemy. As far as I am concerned apologists for clean coal should be hauled up in front the war crimes tribunal in the Hague and be charged with planetary genocide.
For more rants on Clean Coal and global warming as well as detailed information on how to earn carbon offsets please see
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Although the story that Internet was originally designed to survive a nuclear war may not be true, the Internet does have the inherent capability to survive a far more serious crisis facing this planet – global warming. The same applies to cyber-infrastructure facilities such as computational grids. As the demand for renewable energy grows because of proposed cap and trade systems in the US and elsewhere, those industry sectors that can use low cost renewable energy sources, “in situ”, as opposed to being connected to the electrical grid will be well positioned to dominate the new zero carbon economy.
The advent of 1000G wavelengths next year and the adoption of many of the UCLP principles by companies like CISCO with their new XR router IOS (based on another Ottawa company’s real time OS-QNX) will allow deployment of global articulated private networks (APNs) using logical routers, which will further enable a future Internet whose nodes can be entirely operated with renewable power facilities that are independent of the electrical grid. Internet routing protocols and network configuration tools like UCLP (Argia) used in combination with logical routers and virtual computers will allow for the rapid re-configuration of virtual networks and distributed computing based on the local availability of renewable power.
In the coming year more nodes of the HPDMnet network will be powered solely by windmills or solar panels. Researchers from around the world are more than welcome to participate in this exciting initiative.
Congratulations to Mathieu Lemay and his colleagues at i2Cat, UoAmsterdam, CRC, iCAIR, PROMPT, SURFnet and CANARIE for this successful demo.
For more details on “follow the sun/follow the wind” project please see
For information on HPDMnet please
For information on PROMPT’s Next Generation Internet to Reduce Global Warming please see
California, Canada campuses combat greenhouse gas emissions with green IT
In one of the first efforts of its kind, universities in Canada and California are pledging to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their campuses while developing so-called "green cyberinfrastructure" – information technology that improves energy efficiency and reduces the impact of emissions on climate change.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today by the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of California, San Diego – both sustainability leaders – and Prompt Inc., a non-profit corporation that fosters research and development, building university-industry partnerships to increase the competitiveness of Quebec's information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
The MoU signing took place at the third Summit of the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP), held Oct. 26-27 in Montreal.
"By pooling our knowledge, resources and best practices, Canada and the U.S. will be that much more able to contribute cutting edge research on climate change," says John Hepburn, UBC Vice-President, Research.
"Moreover, this is a critical lead role that we're taking to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from computer and telecommunications technologies within campus infrastructure."
In the near term, the institutions agreed to develop methods to share greenhouse gas (GHG) emission data in connection with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards for information computer and telecommunications equipment (ISO 14062), as well as baseline emission data for cyberinfrastructure and networks (ISO 14064).
"Many universities are confronting the issue of global climate change with a new focus on sustainability," said Art Ellis, Vice Chancellor for Research at UC San Diego. "This MoU creates a unique international partnership that will examine how cyberinfrastructure can be used in research universities to create carbon-neutral environments. We are committed to sharing best practices, and working together to realize the promise of our collaboration."
"This collaboration will enable the development of industrially-relevant methodologies and technologies with broad application across the ICT sector," says Charles Despins, President and CEO of Prompt.
"Building on our mandate," says Despins, "we aim to facilitate university-industry partnerships that will help translate 'green' research results into viable new commercial opportunities for companies in Quebec, across Canada and California."
"While the carbon footprint of high performance computing has risen because of huge growth in this area, networking and trends such as virtualization offer great hope that we can also be part of the solution," says Bill St. Arnaud, Chief Research Officer at CANARIE. "This MoU reinforces existing close links between key Canadian institutions and their counterparts in California, notably at UC San Diego, and we are hopeful that over time we will be able to extend the alliance to other universities in both countries."
[Excerpts from the MoU]
The University of California, San Diego is one of the premier research universities in the United States and it committed to continued institutional leadership in the area of understanding, analyzing, and developing solutions to issues of global climate change. UCSD was recently rated 21st out of 300 colleges and universities surveyed by the Green Report Card, was the first University on the West Coast to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, and through the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, is host to the GreenLight Project for measuring climate impact of cyberinfrastructure.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities with a strong commitment to sustainability research and practice. In the 2009 Green Report Card, UBC is the only university in Canada to earn an A- and one of just 15 schools to achieve that grade. In 1997, UBC became Canada's first university to implement a sustainable development policy. A year later, the university opened Canada's first Sustainability Office (SO). UBC is among hundreds of leading educational institutions that signed 1990's Talloires Declaration. These institutions pledged to make sustainability the foundation for campus operations, research, and teaching.
PROMPT Inc (PROMPT) is both a private corporation and a non-profit organization whose efforts are supported financially by the Quebec government and industry in the ICT sector. Its objective is to reinforce the Quebec innovation system and increase the benefits of public investments to research. Prompt’s mission is to enhance the competitiveness of companies in the ICT sector through research partnerships with universities and Quebec public research centers. These research partnerships are jointly financed by the private sector, the Quebec government and the government of Canada. PROMPT has recently been building a Green Next Generation Internet initiative involving a large critical mass of domestic and foreign partners. (www.promptinc.org)
The signatories to this agreement recognize that:
1. Global climate change is occurring and that society has a responsibility to address it;
2. Cyber-infrastructure, research networks, and information communication technologies are critical tools in helping North American universities and research centers reduce their GHG emissions;
3. Many universities throughout North America are moving toward carbon-neutral strategies either on a voluntary basis, or as part of a government mandate; and
4. UCSD, UBC and PROMPT wish to further promote their respective objectives by providing for appropriate collaborations and interconnections between their researchers, public sector organizations, and industry partners.
Therefore, UCSD, UBC and PROMPT agree as follows:
1. To explore and share best practices in reducing GHG emissions at their respective institutions and more specifically to develop methods to share GHG emission data for ICT equipment (ISO 14062) and baseline emission data for cyber-infrastructure and networks as per ISO 14064, either through a common registry or other means.
2. To strategically engage the appropriate national organizations in their respective countries toward securing resources that will support various instruments and test beds - such as UCSD’s “GreenLight Project” and PROMPT’s G-NGI - to enable measurement of ISO 14062 life cycle and ISO 14064 project baseline emission data.
3. To work with national funding bodies in their respective countries for the establishment of cyber-infrastructure programs to explore carbon reduction strategies enabled, either directly or indirectly, by new network and distributed computing architectures such as PROMPT G-NGI, OptiPuter and CineGrid.
4. To collaborate with appropriate wide area research networks to explore methodologies and architectures to decrease GHG emissions, including options such as relocation of resources to renewable energy sites, virtualization, etc.
5. To explore the potential for “virtual” carbon trading systems, whereby carbon offsets earned through a variety of GHG reduction mechanisms are traded between participating institutions in exchange for access to cyber-infrastructure resources (grid computational cycles, wide area network bandwidth, research funding and or other virtual services.)
6. To explore the creation of a multi-sector pilot of a generalized carbon trading system including stakeholders from government, industry, and universities.
7. To collaborate with each other and with government agencies and departments and other organizations in their respective countries to promote and encourage other universities, institutions and organizations such as EDUCAUSE, CENIC, Compute Canada, CANARIE, and CUCCIO to be additional signatories to this Memorandum of Understanding.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
PROMPT workshop on building zero carbon networks
California-Canada summit on Green IT
Ericsson Designs a Wind-Powered Cell Tower
Working with Vertical Wind AB and Uppsala University in Sweden, Ericsson researchers have developed a wind-powered tower for wireless base stations.
The wind-powered Tower Tube takes the energy-lean design of Ericsson's original Tower Tube one step further by employing renewable energy. It harnesses wind power via a four-blade turbine with five-meter blades vertically attached to the tower. The vertical rotor blades work silently and minimize the load on the tower during operation.
Trials are currently planned to determine if the design can truly enable low-cost mobile communication, with reduced impacts on both the local and global environment.
The Ericsson Tower Tube construction houses base stations and antennas, fully enclosing them in an aesthetically pleasing concrete tower. It has a smaller footprint and lower environmental impact than traditional steel towers with CO2 emissions related to materials, such as production an transportation, that are at least 30 percent lower.
Furthermore, the Ericsson Tower Tube has no need for feeders and cooling systems. With up to 40 percent lower power consumption than traditional base station sites, it helps operators reduce their operating costs significantly. It employs cutting-edge design and can be built in many sizes and painted in a variety of colors, making it a natural fit for any landscape.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Virtualization of networks and computing through clouds or grids using SOA, as well as purchasing green power or moving infrastructure facilities to zero carbon data will be the most likely ways that organizations can reduce their GHG emissions in order to earn carbon offset dollars. But before proceeding with expensive and time consuming baseline GHG measurements, an organization should first determine whether they are ready to move to a world of virtual networks (including virtual routers and switches), virtual servers and cloud applications. If the organization’s “server huggers” are not prepared to let go of their physical computers, routers and switches, then there is no point in proceeding with a baseline assessment.
Networks, ICT and cyber-infrastructure are about the only places in an organization where significant GHG reductions are possible. In most organizations in the service sector (education, health, government, banking, finance, telecom, etc) ICT is, by and far, the largest producer of GHG emissions. Although same savings in GHG emission can be made through video conferencing, tele-commuting, tele-work centers and adjusting building heating and cooling systems, these savings will be marginal compared to the savings that are possible through virtualization and use of green power, or relocating ICT equipment to zero carbon data centers.
The dollar savings in energy costs and potential to earn carbon offset dollars can be the several of millions of dollars per year for a small to medium size organization (50 – 500 people).
You can quickly do your own back of the envelope calculation of the potential dollars (within an order of magnitude) for your organization:
1. Each computer server produces 8 tons of CO2 per year
2. Each PC or laptop produces 4 tons of CO2 per year
3. Each printer or photocopier produces 10 tons of CO2 per year
4. Each router produces 20 tons of CO2 per year
5. Each Ethernet switch produces 5 tons of CO2 per year
Carbon offsets are currently trading between $7- $20 per ton, but next year Europe is projected to raise the carbon price from cap and trade to $100 per ton. It is expected that cost of carbon will soon rise to $400 to $1000 per ton over the next few years.
The above numbers assume that all the electrical power used by the organization is generated from coal. However, even if your electrical power is from cleaner sources such as nuclear, gas and oil, it is expected that cap and trade will be push up cost of power from these sources at a slight discount of that power produced from coal. True renewable power such as that produced by windmills, hydro and solar systems may trade at a premium to the market, especially within large urban centers. ---BSA]
Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Projects
The Purchase of Green Power
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The energy market is orders of magnitude larger than Internet market or click advertising. It is also a market limited by resource scarcity, which ultimately means increased costs and larger opportunities for revenue growth ( this is how the oil companies have become so rich). The internet and “e”Commerce on the other hand are markets of abundance where is scarcity is only an artifact created by the carriers. In markets of abundance, costs will inevitably go down, as will revenue opportunities. What we need to do is create revenue opportunities in markets of scarcity in exchange for offering free services in markets of abundance. For some examples please see http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/
Google and other companies don’t have to wait for smart meters and smart grids in order to realize revenue from the energy market. There already exists a trillion dollar market in energy resale –where you don’t have to make single investment in infrastructure or equipment. The only cost to get in, is a license fee of a couple thousand dollars per state or province. Unfortunately that low entry fee and huge revenue potential has attracted a lot of unsavory companies and the energy re-sale market today is characterized by shady business practices and millions of customer complaints.
If companies like Google entered the market they could use their “click advertising” skills to quickly drive down costs and also provide an aura of credibility and respectability to the industry. Companies like Google could also be big drivers in gCommerce to help consumers reduce their CO2 footprint by offering virtual products and services in exchanging for the consumer purchasing renewable power at a premium to conventional dirty power. Some excerpts from the GigaOm article–BSA]
Google’s Best Energy Bet: Organizing Energy Usage
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information — be it via search, email, online maps or mobile apps — but it could someday help you manage your daily energy consumption, too. At a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that as part of its recently announced collaboration with GE, the search engine giant is currently looking at designing tools to help consumers understand their energy consumption. Google has also been actively looking at utilities’ smart meter projects, he said, and at using its strong connection with consumers to play a role in consumer energy management.
Helping consumers, even utilities, manage energy data is a perfect fit for Google. The power grid in its current form won’t be able to support the loads — inefficient and unintelligent, it has yet to benefit from the technologies of the information age. Meanwhile, at the edges of the grid, consumers know very little about their energy use; monthly electricity bills have an appalling lack of transparency and options compared to industries like cell phones.
That said, there probably isn’t a company that has changed consumer behavior online more than Google. It has not only shaped how consumers access information. So Google is wise to be looking into online tools, or even a wireless home networking product, that could help consumers change their energy consumption behavior. They’re clearly headed in that direction: “It seems obvious to me that if you give [energy] information to end users they behave smartly,” Schmidt said in his speech. “So we are working on that.” It could ultimately be the most important contribution Google makes to fighting climate change. As Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency notes, advanced technology deployments will take several decades and a lot of capital. Simple tools that can affect the behavior of the average consumer’s energy usage will be more cost-effective and can be implemented now.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The first meeting will be the California-Canada summit to be held in Montreal October 26-27. This is an invitation only event which will involve leading carbon accounting firms, industry players and academia from Canada and California where we will be exploring possibility of some collaborative initiatives between Canada and California on how research networks and cyber-infrastructure can help reduce the carbon footprint at our respective institutions. Dr Larry Smarr, Harry E. Gruber Prof, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego and myself will be co-chairs of this event. If you have expertise in carbon accounting and GHG life cycle measurements with respect to ICT (ISO 14062 and ISO 14064), in particular research networks and cyber-infrastructure, you may be interested in attending this event. Please contact Lisa Stockley (Lisa.Stockley@international.gc.ca) about a possible invitation.
The second meeting is being sponsored by PROMPT Inc on October 28th and will be a continuation of the California-Canada summit but with a focus on Next Generation Internet to Reduce Global Warming (G-NGI) http://www.promptinc.org/documents/atelier_ngi_ang.pdf. This workshop will focus on the development of new computing and Internet architectures to reduce global warming as well as the establishment of ISO 14064 testbeds in order to baseline emission measurements in order for network researchers and campus CIOs to potentially qualify for carbon offsets. This workshop is also invitation only, so please contact Jacques McNeill if you are interested in attending ( JMcNeill@promptinc.org).
Finally there will be session on Green Cyber-Infrastructure and research networking at the CANARIE-ORION summit on November 4 in Toronto which will also involve leading carbon accounting firms such as ZeroFootPrint and Climate-Check where they will explain the various standards and processes for measuring CO2 baseline emissions and how to possibly qualify for carbon offsets. http://www.orioncanariesummit.ca/greenit.html
Increasingly it is being recognized that Climate Change is an issue that we all have a responsibility to address. Its solely not a problem restricted to coal burning power plants or drivers of SUVs. It will also have a major impact on how we carry out research and teaching at our universities. Most significantly cyber-infrastructure and IT may now be one of the major contributors to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at our universities and research centers. Fortunately, although cyber-infrastructure and IT may be part of the problem, it is also part of the solution.
Many universities throughout North America are adopting carbon neutral strategies either on a voluntary basis, or as part of a government mandate. This workshop/seminar will help inform university IT departments, CIOs and researchers the necessary steps on how to reduce the institution’s carbon footprint
This workshop will show how to collect GHG life cycle data (ISO 14062) for their respective cyber-infrastructure and IT hardware vendors and how to establish ISO 14064 baseline data as soon as possible for their respective campus and wide area networks and IT equipment, from which future GHG reductions will be measured (and this potentially eligible for carbon offset dollars). Finally new network and distributed computing architectures will be discussed that may allow institutions to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their current cyber-infrastructure and networks.]
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- How Cap and trade can pay for national broadband, ...
- World's first demo of "follow the sun/follow the w...
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