Energy Internet and eVehicles Overview

Governments around the world are wrestling with the challenge of how to prepare society for inevitable climate change. To date most people have been focused on how to reduce Green House Gas emissions, but now there is growing recognition that regardless of what we do to mitigate against climate change the planet is going to be significantly warmer in the coming years with all the attendant problems of more frequent droughts, flooding, sever storms, etc. As such we need to invest in solutions that provide a more robust and resilient infrastructure to withstand this environmental onslaught especially for our electrical and telecommunications systems and at the same time reduce our carbon footprint.

Linking renewable energy with high speed Internet using fiber to the home combined with autonomous 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 that is far more robust and resilient to survive climate change than today's centralized command and control infrastructure. These new energy architectures will also significantly reduce our carbon footprint. For more details please see:

Using autonomous eVehicles for Renewable Energy Transportation and Distribution: and

Free High Speed Internet to the Home or School Integrated with solar roof top:

High level architecture of Internet Networks to survive Climate Change:

Architecture and routing protocols for Energy Internet:

How to use Green Bond Funds to underwrite costs of new network and energy infrastructure:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How California suburban sprawl could be the answer to global warming

[California suburban sprawl has always been seen as an environmentalist’s nightmare, and many believe it is unsustainable as we move to a low carbon economy. However I believe that paradoxically the suburban lifestyle may be a partial solution to addressing the challenge of global warming.

Friday, December 10, 2010

eScience and Community based open source climate modelling

[Ian Foster has just posted an excellent slide deck on the importance of building open source climate models.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How R&E networks can help universities save millions of dollars and reduce CO2

[While I was at CANARIE we had commissioned 3 independent studies to look at how building remote and/or efficient data centers could save universities money through energy savings and the use of carbon offsets.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to attract green data centers and clouds to your province or state

[Over the past couple of years I have undertaken a couple of studies on behalf of clients in Canada and internationally looking at the requirements to attract data centers and/or cloud infrastructure to their respective town, province or state.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EU launches €4.5bn research program using carbon offsets

[Another good example of how carbon offsets and/or taxes can used to fund green research projects.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why carbon offsets/taxes should be used to fund Green IT research and cyber-infrastructure

[The failure of the US congress to pass a cap and trade system may be a blessing in disguise. There is a growing recognition amongst policy makers and environmentalists that we need alternate approaches in addition to traditional cap and trade programs to address the looming catastrophe of global warming. The challenge with cap and trade programs is that they are predicated upon making carbon-based energy more expensive in order to incentivize the deployment of clean energy alternatives. But forced to choose between enforcing emissions caps or keeping energy prices low and economic growth high, policymakers find ways to circumvent emissions caps and minimize economic impacts upon consumers and businesses. The result is that cap and trade systems around the world have only had marginal impact on reducing GHG emissions compared to the business as usual case. Rather than wasting billions of dollars on dubious national cap and trade systems policy makers are now focusing on stimulating innovation and diffusion of non-polluting energy technology.

A proposal called “Post Partisan Power” by the Brookings Institution, the Breakthrough Institute and the American Enterprise Institute recommend the establishment $5 billion program of regional, focused energy innovation institutes involving universities, government researchers and private industry and investors. The proponents of the initiative suggest that money would come from a portion of oil and gas leases, a small fee on imported oil and small surcharge on electricity sales and/or a very small carbon price. But given the political realities of Washington and Ottawa I suspect the funding for such an initiative will have to come from provincial and state cap and trade programs such as WCI, RGGI, etc . Unfortunately, at the moment these regional cap and trade programs are only focusing on the trading of offsets and not using any of the funds to underwrite research.

However, a study by the Canadian Conference Board in Canada on the various GHG mitigation programs in Canada demonstrated that funding green research out of carbon offsets or carbon taxes had the biggest bang for the buck in terms of reducing GHG emissions and creating jobs as well as new businesses. The OECD also recently made a recommendation along these lines as well.

Although ICT currently represents only 2-3% of global GHG emissions and 7-9% of electrical energy consumption its growth rate is dramatic at 6% per year. If this growth rate continues by 2030 ICT could consume, by various estimates anywhere from 20-40% of global electrical consumption and corresponding GHG emissions.

According to data from the Australian Computer Society the education/research sector is by far the largest component of this ICT energy consumption and GHG emissions.

In my opinion it is therefore critical that education and research community, and by extension the research and education networks (who are likely to provide the most effective solutions) should be eligible for some of this research funding. The higher education sector, in particular, should be at the forefront of looking for new solutions to address climate change.

Additional information can be found at:

Real-World Steps on Energy and CO2

California can lead nation on carbon cutbacks

Conference Board of Canada report on benefits of using carbon offsets to fund research

OECD recommendations on using offsets to fund Green IT research

How research and educational institutions can provide national leadership in reducing CO2

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moving data is a lot easier and cheaper than moving energy

[An excellent overview and summary of the Greenstar project – which is the world’s first cloud/Internet build solely using renewable energy resources. Rather than bringing expensive energy to data centers why not move the data centers to where the energy is located? Two large commercial data center/cloud operators are part of this project. Since many renewable energy resources are unpredictable and unreliable compute and data jobs are moved from node to node depending on availability of energy. A number of next generation Internet technologies such as NSI, OpenFlow, Hadoop, etc allow this easy migration of data and computing. This type of architecture is ideal for 5G wireless networks where multiple overlapping nodes powered solely by renewable energy and connected to fiber networks such as WiFi, WhitFi, mesh and traditional 3g/4g . At any one time at least one of the nodes will likely have sufficient renewable power and can provide service for a given coverage area. – BSA]

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

European Research Program - ICT, the engine for sustainable growth in a low carbon economy

[Kudos to European Commission for next ICT Research Program 2011-2012. One of the3 major focuses of the program will be ICT research for “sustainable growth in low carbon economy”. I am pleased to see that the EU distinguishes between energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions – as the two are often not related. The only thing missing from the program is research into low carbon ICT products and services. Given that ICT will consume anywhere from 15-40% of all electricity by 2030, reducing the impact of ICT, in its own right, should be a number one priority. Also, as recommended by OECD and others funding for carbon reduction programs should come from carbon offset or carbon tax programs – as this will result in far greater return then simply trading of offsets – BSA]

2.1 ICT, the engine for sustainable growth in a low carbon economy
A recent OECD report4 highlighted that "investment in a networked recovery will preserve
ICT as a key engine of growth" given its impact on productivity and innovation across
manufacturing and service sectors. This is now set out in the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy5 and
notably in its ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ flagship initiative6.
The ICT sector has been identified as a potential major player in the fight against climate

This Challenge explores how ICT can contribute to delivering a sustainable, low carbon
society and help progress towards the Europe 2020 targets on climate and energy. ICT can
assist in reshaping the demand side of our energy-dependant society, reducing energy
consumption, and subsequently CO2 emissions, in particular in electricity distribution,
buildings and construction, transport and logistics, the public sector, rural areas and cities.

The Challenge focuses on the following:
Future electricity distribution grids applying seamless communications systems to
increase the connectivity, management, automation and coordination between suppliers
(including renewable sources), consumers and networks;
Energy efficient design and decision support tools optimizing the energy performance
during systems development and operation (e.g. modelling, simulation and planning,
enterprise management systems, data centres);
Water management, including demand-side management, integrated water resource
management frameworks and comprehensive decision support systems;
Energy-efficient buildings, neighbourhoods as well as urban and rural areas improving the
buildings construction cycle, improving the use of energy beyond buildings, advancing
complex urban systems, and optimising the dynamics of energy supply and demand in
neighbourhoods and extended urban and rural communities. This research will contribute
to the Energy-Efficient Buildings Public-Private-Partnership launched in 2008 as part of
the European Economic Recovery Plan;
ICT for low-carbon multi-modal freight and logistics covering technologies and services
for multi-modal freight and logistics as well as ICT for clean and efficient multi-modal
mobility for further improving energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions in all modes
of transport for passengers and goods;
Cooperative Systems for low-carbon multi-modal mobility covering cooperative
applications and services for energy efficiency and eco-friendly mobility as well as a
European Wide Service Platform (EWSP) for services leveraging those cooperative
ICT for fully electric vehicles advancing the development and integration of major
building blocks of the Full Electric Vehicle (FEV), and integrating the FEV with
infrastructures. Projects supported under this objective will contribute to the European
Green Cars Initiative, a Public-Private-Partnership launched in 2008 as part of the
European Economic Recovery Plan.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quebec - PROMPT world leadership extending zero carbon Internet Greenstar to China and California

[Quebec has been leading the world in funding research in Green ICT in their new $60 million Green ICT research program. They are one of the few jurisdictions that understand funding Green IT research may have most bang for buck in creating jobs and economic growth and reducing CO2. PROMPT Inc and Quebec government also understands critical difference between reducing CO2 through zero carbon strategy versus questionable energy efficiency. You may also have read that many Quebec citizens are very much against developing the new recently discovered shale gas and oil deposits within that province because of the environmental impact. Quite a contrast to the rest of the world – where “drill, baby drill” is still the ongoing mantra despite all the evidence that climate catastrophe is coming much sooner than expected – BSA]

Charting a Global Course in Clean, Green Technology: Prompt Bolsters Québec’s International Leadership in Green ICT by Establishing New Partnerships with China and California, Creating a World of Opportunity for Innovators

Press Release

MONTREAL, Québec, October 13, 2010 – Prompt, Québec’s premier ICT R&D consortia, is pleased to announce new strategic partnerships with China and California that will help to bolster Québec’s global leadership in Green ICT, and create new R&D and business opportunities for researchers and companies in Québec and across Canada. These include:
• The engagement of the Shanghai Research Center for Wireless Communications (WiCO) of China in the GreenStar Network (GSN), a CANARIE-funded initiative led by École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) that aims to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) emerging from ICT-based services. WiCO’s participation in GSN further evolves this pan-Canadian consortium into a broader global R&D initiative.
• A commitment to connect the GreenLight Project (an energy efficient computer processing initiative led by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology or Calit2) and the GreenStar Network, enabling researchers in Canada and California to access a broader array of tools, technologies and testbeds at a distance, and collaborate on the development of Green ICT solutions. This was one of several outcomes emerging from the first strategic planning meeting on the development of a proposed Canada-California Green ICT R&D consortium.
These outcomes mark important progress on the implementation of Prompt’s Green ICT Strategy. By delivering on key objectives with international partners, Prompt is further leveraging provincial and federal funds, and helping to create a global Green ICT community of interest with greater critical mass. This collaborative approach is required to fully realize the global potential of Green ICT – from the reduction of more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon to $800 billion in projected worldwide annual energy cost savings by 2020. It will also deliver economic benefits to local researchers and companies in Québec and across Canada, facilitating access to new global R&D expertise, investment, and markets.

To review the complete Prompt press release:
» Read the full release -
» Download the backgrounder (PDF) -
» Download the Green ICT Strategy document (PDF) -
For additional information, please contact:
Sonya Shorey
Communications Strategist
Cell: 613.851.9416

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Energy costs in network can be greater than energy savings in the cloud

[Excellent paper by J. Baliga and Rod Tucker that shows focusing on energy consumption of “green” data centers may be misleading. Data transfer over a routed network could be significant component of the overall power consumption. Optical networks of course a much smaller energy footprint than routed networks. Of course if the routing and computing nodes are powered by renewable energy then the CO2 footprint is very small (although overall energy consumption may be in fact higher) –BSA]

Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia have come to the conclusion that cloud computing is not always the greenest option on the storage and processing as well as the software level. This research examined the issue in both the public and private cloud context in comparison to the energy consumption used for the same tasks on a local system.
The authors argued that most studies seeking an answer to a similar question about the “green” nature of the cloud have only looked at the datacenter’s energy consumption and have thus failed to include the important issue of energy use during data transfer. They suggest that the transport of data to and from datacenters, particularly since public cloud center might be a continent away, uses quite a bit more energy overall than simply storing data locally. reported that, “for cloud processing services (in which a server such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud processes large computational tasks only and smaller tasks are processed on the user’s computer) the researchers again found that the cloud alternative can use lower consumption only under certain conditions.” This is because “the large number of router hops required on the public Internet greatly increases the energy consumption in transport, and private cloud processing requires significantly fewer routers.”
The leader of the research project, Rod Tucker, told that when one is using the cloud for data storage (for instance on Amazon’s Simple Storage platform) cloud uses less energy than typical computing, but only when that service is used infrequently and not in a high-performance context since data transport energy use is minimal.
While the study focused on more garden variety processors and systems common for desktop users, this research might lend some insight to larger enterprise centers that are reliant on the cloud for some or all of their business operations. While many enterprise users might look at their bottom line before analyzing their overall carbon footprint, a study on the large enterprise scale that takes data transfer into account to offer a “green” score for a company might be a good idea.
Making the process of data transport more energy efficient needs to become a priority, but luckily there are incentives to do so. While the end user might not be bearing much of the cost of inefficient data transfer consumptions, it is in the best interest of cloud providers, who must remain competitive via pricing models, to constantly improve this critical aspect of their datacenters.
The research from the University of Melbourne will be published soon from Jayant Baliga and colleagues. The paper is called “Green Cloud Computing: Balancing Energy in Processing, Storage and Transport” and will be published in the journal Proceedings of the IEEE.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Must read - The Climate Fix - why carbon taxes/offsets should be used to fund research

[I have been an enthusiastic follow of Roger Pielke, Jr’s blog and his recently published book “The Climate Fix”. He is one of the few climate policy researchers that understands the challenges of energy consumption versus CO2 emissions. Given the projected huge growth of GHG emissions from IT, a number one priority should be funding research on the demand side in low carbon/zero carbon IT (as opposed to Green IT which is largely focused on energy consumption). This was also a recommendation by OECD ICCP committee last year. My only enhancement to his arguments is the use of a “cap and reward” program instead of a carbon tax to pay for the research – BSA]
Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst, has a new book out called The Climate Fix in which he argues several points:

1) Science has sufficiently made the case that climate change is a significant threat that requires action.

2) Neither the public nor politicians will accept economic contraction for the purpose of reducing carbon emissions.

This he calls the "iron law of climate policy," and from my reading the book supports this notion pretty well.

3) Cap-and-trade increases the cost of energy and therefore violates the iron law. Furthermore the cap-and-trade-style program envisioned by the Kyoto Protocol has not worked to accelerate carbon emission reductions in Europe.

4) There simply aren't good policy options now available to address climate change, and there haven't been since the problem was identified.

5) Modern energy technology falls far short of what's needed to address climate change.

6) The best potential solution is a slight tax on carbon that would be all but unnoticeable to the public but would generate billions of dollars for much-needed research into alternative energy resources, technologies such as batteries and carbon sequestration.

Overall the book provides a good explanation of why cap-and-trade policies probably will fail on a global scale, and does an very nice job of outlining the magnitude of the challenge of decarbonization. It is enormous in the face of rising energy demand.
Have a look,

For more information

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Monday, October 4, 2010

ICTs in the home account for almost 50% of energy use

[This follows on similar data from the International Energy Agency, that in many western homes energy use from ICT exceeds that of traditional appliances. ICT should be the one technology in which we can stop the inexorable growth of energy consumption and attendant GHG emissions. But more energy efficiency is not the answer. We need to get all ICT equipment off the grid. Most of the energy consumption of ICT in the home is the power draw when the equipment is in standby mode or for plug in chargers. This low level power demand could easily be provisioned through 400 Hz multiplex power delivered from small roof top solar panels and/or micro windmills. When a device needs more power for full operational mode it can easily switch to drawing power from the mains. Today’s power consumption from ICT is also one reason why Smart meter programs have been such a failure – BSA]
e360 digest

The average American household uses the same amount of energy it did in the early 1970s, despite significant improvements in the efficiency of household appliances, according to a report in theWashington Post. Even though appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators now use half the amount of energy that they did several decades ago, average household energy use has remained the same because houses have been getting bigger and because they now contain more power-hungry devices, such as computers, flat-screen televisions, video games, and digital video recorders. One sign of that growing demand from computers, TVs, and other gadgets is that while electricity accounted for 23 percent of an average household’s energy use in 1978, it now accounts for 42 percent, according to the Post. Even though household energy use has essentially remained flat for the past 40 years, the number of households has increased significantly as the U.S. population has grown from 203 million in 1970 to nearly 310 million today, pushing up overall energy use.

For more information

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Threshold for dangerous climate change closer than believed?

[Readers interested in this subject should also see the TED talk about the West Antarctica Ice Shelf (WAIS). The WAIS sits on ground that is below sea level and so if the warming seas get underneath the ice sheet it could break up very fast. New evidence indicates this could start to happen if the planet warms up more than 1C. We have already warmed up the planet .8C Must view: Scary stuff- Discovering ancient climates in oceans and ice -

The fact that ICT now accounts for almost 42% of energy consumption in US homes and projections by the IEA that ICT could consume 40% of the world’s electricity by 2030 means we in the ICT industry have to do something before we become the new climate villains. This is unsustainable and needs to be stopped. ICT is the one industry that has the “smarts” and is used to moving at Internet speeds with easy access to VC money. We need to act now.


Threshold for dangerous climate change closer than believed?
Recent research suggests current target for limiting global warming is actually unsafe

The overarching goal for international climate policy is to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees C over pre-industrial levels. Beyond that threshold, climate scientists have believed, lies dangerous climate change, including sea level rise that could inundate major cities.
But a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Quaternary Science suggests that the threshold may be lower than 2° C. (Click for a press release on the research.)
“The results here are quite startling and, importantly, they suggest sea levels will rise significantly higher than anticipated and that stabilizing global average temperatures at 2˚C above pre-industrial levels may not be considered a ’safe’ target as envisaged by the European Union and others,” says study co-author Chris Turney of the University of Exeter in the U.K. (quoted in a press release).
This isn’t the first suggestion that targets for preventing dangerous climate change have been set too high. Based on research into ancient climates, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a group of colleagues, have made a similar argument:
If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that.
Current emissions targets are supposed to help achieve the goal spelled out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by 192 nations in 1992: avoid “dangerous interference with the climate system.” But what exactly is the threshold of danger?
As I wrote in a post back on December 17th, 2009, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, concluded with high confidence that an increase in the global mean temperature of more than 2 degrees C above the long-term average would lead to widespread losses in biodiversity, declining productivity of agriculture globally, and a “commitment” to widespread de-glaciation of Greenland’s ice sheets (and thus a significant rise in sea level). With medium confidence, the report concluded that such a temperature increase would lead to de-glaciation of West Antarctica’s ice sheets as well.
Based on this, 16 developed and developing nations that account for about 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions agreed at the 2009 G8 Summit, in July 2009 that an increase in the global mean temperature of more than 2 degrees C above the long-term average would put the world at substantial risk of dangerous climate change.
To avoid that unhappy outcome, climate policy makers have been trying to forge an agreement to keep CO2 concentrations from rising above 450 parts per million, which is considered necessary for limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees C.
Like James Hansen and his colleagues, Turney believes his new research shows this won’t be nearly good enough.
He and his co-author analyzed a set of global data on climatic conditions during the last interglacial period, which lasted from approximately 130,000 to 116,000 years ago. Like the current geologic period, the last interglacial was marked by relatively warm conditions and a retreat of glaciers and ice sheets. The analysis suggests that at that time, global temperatures were about 1.9°C higher than pre-industrial levels.
Most significantly, with temperatures just a little shy of 2°C higher than pre-industrial times, sea level was 6.6 meters to 9.4 meters higher than it is today, and it rose at double the rate being observed now. A sea level rise of that degree would swamp many coastal cities, affecting many tens of millions of people.
“The inevitable conclusion is emission targets will have to be lowered further still,” Turney concludes.

For more information please see

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Overview of Carbon Accounting for Green IT

[One of the big challenges we face in the Green IT industry is all the wild and exaggerated claims about the “greenness” of various products and services. As I have blogged many times most people confuse reduction in energy consumption with being green. The real problem facing the planet is not energy consumption but GHG emissions – so it is critically we measure the real objective in any product or service that claims to be green –its actual carbon footprint. Energy reduction or efficiency in many situations can be counter productive and actually increase GHG emissions.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA), one of the world’s largest standards organizations is developing globally recognized GHG standards based on the ISO 14064 to develop verifiable and auditable measurements of GHG reduction from the use of ICT. This will help quantify whether claims of lower PUE, virtualization or clouds actually do reduce GHG.

They have kindly me allowed to publish the following overview of Carbon Accounting for Green IT. For those who have a genuine interest in moving beyond green washing and help reduce the GHG impact of ICT I suggest you contact the authors listed at the end of this presentation – BSA]

For more information on this item please visit my blog at or
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IT to consume 40% of world's electricity by 2030

[At Network World IT roadmap Federic Chanfrau, Senior VP of IT at Schneider Electric pointed out some interesting projections from the International Energy Agency (IEA). According to the IEA, if IT power consumption continues to grow 15% per year it will represent 40% of all global electrical consumption by 2030. Even if this growth rate is assume to be overly optimistic and we use the SMART 2020 forecast of 6% per year it still represents a staggering growth of doubling every 10 years in energy consumption and concomitant CO2 emissions.

An illustrative example of this staggering growth rate in ICT, again according to the IEA, is that fact that ICT represents the biggest energy consumption in many modern western home due to the aggregate electrical power draw from ICT devices such as flat screen TVs, computers, set top boxes, chargers, etc. This aggregate load exceeds the energy consumption of tradition appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, dish washers, etc. What is more astounding that energy consumption from ICT in our homes was virtually non-existent a decade ago.

We simply cannot let the ICT industry become the new bad boy of environmental GHG emissions. Our industry must immediately take steps to stop this unsustainable growth in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. And if we have any hope of reducing GHG emissions globally we must take immediate steps to make ICT products and services zero carbon.

Energy efficiency will not do it. A simple math calculation shows that we would need impossible gains in efficiency of 50-70% year over year over year on all new ICT products and services just to keep energy consumption emissions constant to what they are today. We must move beyond energy efficiency and look at building zero carbon solutions where all ICT equipment is powered by renewable energy sources only. We already have many good examples of how this can be done which I have blogged about in previous posts. – BSA]

For more information please see

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Energy Efficiency Does not Decrease Energy Consumption

[Great article on this subject forwarded by Andy Revkin of NYtimes. As I have said many times, the problem facing the planet is not energy consumption – it is the type of energy consume. It is the dirty coal plants emitting CO2 that is one of the major cause of global warming. We need smart ICTs not solely to focus on energy efficiency but to allow us to use ONLY clean energy. Many countries plan to have at least 30-40% of their energy come renewable sources. The challenge with clean energy is its unpredictability and unreliability. Part of the solution is on the supply side through energy storage and large DC grids. But we also have to address the demand side by developing products and services that can function using only renewable energy with all of its attendant problems of unpredictability. Keeping dirty coal plants on standby power in the advent of lack of power from windmills and solar panels is not a solution when these energy sources are not providing power. So when we talk about smart grids, electric vehicles, smart buildings, etc we should be more concerned about how we power these facilities ONLY with renewable energy. This is a much greater intellectual challenge then simple reducing energy consumption. – BSA]
Why Energy Efficiency Does not Decrease Energy Consumption

By Harry Saunders

I recently co-authored an article for the Journal of Physics ("Solid-state lighting: an energy-economics perspective" by Jeff Tsao, Harry Saunders, Randy Creighton, Mike Coltrin, Jerry Simmon, August 19, 2010) analyzing the increase in energy consumption that will likely result from new (and more efficient) solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies. The article triggered a round of commentaries and responses that have confused the debate over energy efficiency. What follows is my attempt to clarify the issue, and does not necessarily represent the views of my co-authors.
More Efficient Lighting Will Increase, Not Decrease, Energy Consumption

Our Journal of Physics article drew on 300 years of evidence to shows that, as lighting becomes more energy efficient, and thus cheaper, we use ever-more of it. The result, we note, is that "over the last three centuries, and even now, the world spends about 0.72% of its GDP on light. This was the case in the UK in 1700 (UK 1700), is the case in the undeveloped world not on grid electricity in modern times, and is the case for the developed world in modern times using the most advanced lighting technologies."

The implications of this research are important for those who care about global warming. In recent years, more efficient light bulbs have been widely viewed as an important step to reducing energy consumption and thus greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Moreover, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have produced analyses that assume energy efficiency technologies will provide a substantial part of the remedy for climate change by reducing global energy consumption approximately 30 percent -- a reduction nearly sufficient to offset projected economic growth-driven energy consumption increases.

Many have come to believe that new, highly-efficient, solid-state lighting -- generally LED technology, like that used on the displays of stereo consoles, microwaves, and digital clocks -- will result in reduced energy consumption. We find the opposite is true, concluding "that there is a massive potential for growth in the consumption of light if new lighting technologies are developed with higher luminous efficacies and lower cost of light."

The good news is that increased light consumption has historically been tied to higher productivity and quality of life. The bad news is that energy efficient lighting should not be relied upon as means of reducing aggregate energy consumption, and therefore emissions. We thus write: "These conclusions suggest a subtle but important shift in how one views the baseline consequence of the increased energy efficiency associated with SSL. The consequence is not a simple 'engineering' decrease in energy consumption with consumption of light fixed, but rather an increase in human productivity and quality of life due to an increase in consumption of light." This phenomenon has come to be known as the energy "rebound" effect.

The Empirical Evidence for Rebound

The findings of our SSL research inspired The Economist magazine to write a commentary about the study that was mostly correct but made a couple of errors, which we responded to in a letter. In our response, we clarified that energy prices would need to increase 12 percent, not three-fold, in order to reduce the consumption of electricity for lighting, which, to its credit, The Economist posted on its web site and published in its letters section.

Evans Mills of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote on the Climate Progress blog that The Economist had "inverted" our findings. However, The Economist did not "invert" our findings, it had simply overstated an implication of them.

Efficiency advocates sometimes dismiss rebound by only looking at "direct" energy consumption -- that is, consumption by households and for private transportation. Examples of rebound in this part of the energy economy would be driving your Prius more because gasoline costs you very little, or turning up the thermostat in your efficient home. But these "direct-use" rebounds are small in comparison to "indirect-use" rebounds in energy consumption. Globally, some two-thirds of all energy is consumed indirectly-- in the energy used to produce goods and services. A residential washing machine may be energy efficient in terms of function, but in terms of production, the metal body alone requires energy to mine, smelt, stamp, coat, assemble and transport it to a dealer showroom and eventually a residential home. The energy embedded in your washing machine, or just about any product or service you consume, is very large. And remember that any money you save on your energy bills through efficient appliances or the like is re-spent on other goods and services, which each take energy to produce, all while more productive use of our money (e.g. in spending, savings and production) spurs a more robust economy, demanding even more energy.

As our recent SSL research suggests, there is strong empirical evidence that even in the "direct" part of the economy, the rebound effect can sometimes be so substantial as to eliminate essentially all energy reduction gains. But in my new research (which relies on a detailed, theoretically rigorous econometric analysis of real data), the rebound effect found in the larger "indirect" part of the economy is even more significant -- and more worrisome.

Varying degrees of rebound occur because the phenomenon works in several ways. Increasingly efficient technologies effectively lower the cost of energy, as well as the products and services in which it is embedded. This results in firms consuming more energy relative to other production inputs and producing more output profitably. Firms and individuals benefit from cheaper and more abundant products and services, causing them to find many more uses for these (and the energy they contain). A more efficient steel plant, for example, produces cheaper steel that, in turn, allows firms and individuals to afford to find more uses for the same material.

While some find the notion that increased energy efficiency increases energy consumption to be counter-intuitive, the economic theory is remarkably commonsensical. Mills claims that the idea that the rebound effect "has been postulated in theory but never shown empirically to be significant" is not the case. After many years, rebound theory has advanced to the point that it is now a reliable foundation for empirical study and the empirical evidence firmly suggests rebound exists. And remember that the "rebound effect" for other factors of production is expected, even welcomed; economists have long expected labor productivity improvements to drive even greater economic activity, for example, thus increasing demand for labor and creating new employment opportunities in the economy as a whole, even as efficient production may eliminate a handful of jobs at one factory.

The Implications of Rebound

There are significant potential implications of high levels of rebound. One is that greater energy efficiency may be a net positive in increasing economic productivity and growth but should not be relied upon as a way to reduce energy consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions. Particularly in a world where many billions lack sufficient access to modern energy services, efficient technologies such as solid-state lighting may be central to uplifting human dignity and improving quality of life through much of the world. One might even argue that energy efficiency is still important from a climate perspective, because when efficiency leads to greater economic growth, societies will be better able and more willing to invest in more expensive but cleaner energy sources. But in this way energy efficiency is no different from other strategies for increasing economic growth. What should be reconsidered is the assumption that energy efficiency results in a direct, net decrease in aggregate energy consumption when there is a growing body of research suggesting the opposite.

Dr. Harry Saunders has a B.S. in Physics from the University of Alberta, an M.S. in Resources Planning from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University. Saunders coined the "Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate" in 1992 to describe macro-economic theories of energy rebound, and has published widely on energy economics, evolutionary biology, and legal theory. He can be reached at:
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Must read - The "Iron Law" of Climate Policy

[Roger Pielke, Jr. s a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He recently published a book called the “Climate Fix” which deals with the practical problems of implementing effective climate policy legislation. In his book he puts forth the rationale behind the “Iron Law” of Climate Policy: The "iron law" simply states that while people are often willing to pay some price for achieving environmental objectives, that willingness has its limits.

Most climate policies such as cap and trade and/or carbon tax are imposing cost on today’s generation for which they will see no benefit. Since CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years and unlike past environmental problems such as acid rain, CFCs (ozone destruction), etc any reduction in CO2 emission will only SLOW DOWN the rate of global warming. It will not stop the warming of the planet, never mind reversing the trend. So, although the public will go a small way to doing their “bit” to reduce CO2 emissions it is unlikely that they will accept the massive cost increases and radical changes to their lifestyle for the benefit of generations hundreds or thousands of years from now.

Roger Pielke has argued, as I have, that we need climate policies that provide IMMEDIATE and tangible benefits to the public, but have the added feature of also reducing CO2 emissions. Such policies must also be conducive to our current lifestyle and not demand a sack cloth and ashes solutions. Hence my argument for policies like “cap and reward” where consumers and businesses would receive credits directly to purchase low carbon products or services in exchange for paying a carbon tax or levy on their carbon consumption. Rather than having a carbon levy disappear in the hands of government to be spent on dubious projects heavily influenced by lobbyists, or worse into the hands of unscrupulous carbon offset traders, the money would be returned directly to consumers. The only catch is that consumer is restricted to e spending the returned funds on low carbon products or services, hopefully creating a virtuous circle of low carbon living.

The Internet can play a major role in delivering these low carbon products or services through de-materialization of physical products. The Internet and broadband delivery to the home can also be a leading example, in its own right, of an eligible low carbon product that could be paid for through these carbon credits.

Some would argue that energy efficiency should be part of this equation, as well. But for those of you who follow my blog know that I am very skeptical about energy efficiency in any form as it is tackling the wrong problem. The problem facing this planet is not energy consumption, but the type of energy we are consuming. We need to address the real problem – and that is eliminating energy sources that produce CO2. Smart ICT (Information, Computer, Telecommunication) technologies that eliminate the need for energy produced from fossil fuels directly, rather than trying to improve overall energy efficiency, will have far more greater bang for the buck.

I have cited many examples of this type of approach in my writings and blogs such as powering data centers with renewable energy, mobile charging for electric vehicles, 400 Hz multiplex electrical systems to power all standby electronics in our homes, solar powered cell phone networks, etc. These approaches also enhance and complement today’s modern suburban lifestyle of commuting and conspicuous consumption – which is necessary for consumer adoption.

Although ICT, including the Internet, represents 2-3% of all global emissions and 6-10% of energy consumption, it is doubling every 10 years. Even in our homes, according to the IEA, ICT products and services, in aggregate consume more energy than our traditional appliances such as stove, dishwashers etc. While other sectors of society are starting to address their CO2 emissions, the ICT community has barely started. Given the rapid growth of the ICT industry if we do not do something soon, in a few years we will soon be seen as the bad boys of CO2 emissions. – BSA]

Roger Pielke’s blog

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Excellent new OECD report on Green ICT

OECD countries agree to tackle global environmental challenges through information and communication technologies (ICTs),3407,en_21571361_45683854_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

Boosting sustainable economic growth is high on government agendas. The Recommendation of the OECD Council on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the Environment supports governments to increase the environmental benefits of ICT applications and improve environmental impacts of ICTs. As governments embark on green growth paths, this recommendation addresses areas where public sector action can help overcome shortcomings identified in OECD reports on ICT and the environment. OECD analysis shows that most “Green ICT” initiatives concentrate on the direct effects of ICTs themselves rather than tackling climate change and environmental degradation through the use of ICTs as an enabling or “smart” technology

About the ICCP Technology Foresight Forum

First launched in 2005, Technology Foresight Forums are an annual event organised by the OECD Committee for Information, Computer, and Communications Policy to help identify opportunities and challenges for the Internet Economy posed by technical developments. Foresight forums represent a collaborative effort of policy makers from member and non-member governments, business, civil society, and the Internet technical community. Past forum topics include RFID, Next Generation Networks, Participative Web, and Cloud computing.

Greener and Smarter: ICTs, the environment and climate change
Synthesis report,3343,en_21571361_45683854_45982952_1_1_1_1,00.html

The report develops a framework for assessing the environmental benefits and impacts of ICTs, including the direct impacts of technologies themselves as well the impacts of ICTs in improving environmental performance more widely. The report outlines empirical findings on environmental impacts for a range of ICT and Internet applications in energy, transport, waste management and others.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a key enabler of “green growth” in all sectors of the economy. They are a key part of government strategies for a sustainable economic

“Greener and smarter” ICTs include ICTs with better environmental performance than previous generations (direct impacts) and ICTs that can be used to improve environmental performance
throughout the economy and society (enabling and systemic impacts).

-Direct environmental impacts of ICTs are considerable in areas such as energy use, materials throughput and end-of-life treatment. Government “green ICT” policies can be instrumental in promoting life-cycle approaches for improved R&D and design of ICT goods, services and systems.

Innovative ICT applications enable sustainable production and consumption across the entire economy. The potential for improving environmental performance targets specific products, but also entire systems and industry sectors, e.g. construction, transport, energy. Governments can promote cross-sector R&D programmes, national and regional initiatives as well as local pilot projects. This is particularly important in areas where structural barriers, e.g. lack of commercial incentives or high investment costs, may hinder the rapid uptake of “smart” ICTs.

Information and communication are pivotal for system-wide mitigation of environmental impacts and adaptation to inevitable changes in the environment. Governments can stimulate further research into the systemic impacts – intended and unintended – of the diffusion of ICTs in order to assess how ICTs and the Internet contribute to environmental policy goals in the long term.

Measurement of the environmental impacts of “green and smart” ICTs remains an important issue to address. Especially with regards to enabling and systemic impacts, available empirical analysis is methodologically diverse, making comparisons difficult.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Solar roadways - a must watch video

This is the freshest idea yet about out-of-the-box thinking on how to use solar power. The inventors claim that if all the roadways in the US were converted to solar panels there would be enough energy to power the entire US plus more

As I mentioned before depending on the utilities to solve our green house gas and energy problems is like asking the telcos if they think the Internet should be free. They are incapable of thinking of alternate solutions such as described in this video.

I suspect there remains many practical problems and costs – but this is the type of thinking we need for mobile charging of electric vehicles. Charge your vehicle while it is moving or stuck in traffic – not static overnight charging at our homes. The entire roadway does not have to be converted – but only small sections sufficiently spaced to top up the car batteries every few miles. As I mentioned before it is an ideal solution for drive through banks and fast food restaurants. “Will that be fries with your charge?” It is also in line with our modern lifestyle and does not require a hair shirt approach to reducing CO2.

A must-watch---they’re busy developing a prototype.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Economist: Making lighting more efficient could increase energy use, not decrease it

[Finally a reputable economics magazine is starting to get it – energy efficiency has nothing to do with reducing GHG emissions – and if fact will most likely increase GHG emissions. To reduce the GHG impact of lighting we need to change the source of energy from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy – and not simply try to make them more energy efficient. A simple solution would be to mandate that all new LED lighting systems be powered solely by 400 Hz multiplex electrical systems that get their power solely from roof top mounted solar panels or micro wind mills. – BSA]

Energy conservation
Not such a bright idea
Making lighting more efficient could increase energy use, not decrease it
Aug 26th 2010
Less is more
SOLID-STATE lighting, the latest idea to brighten up the world while saving the planet, promises illumination for a fraction of the energy used by incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. A win all round, then: lower electricity bills and (since lighting consumes 6.5% of the world’s energy supply) less climate-changing carbon dioxide belching from power stations.
Well, no. Not if history is any guide. Solid-state lamps, which use souped-up versions of the light-emitting diodes that shine from the faces of digital clocks and flash irritatingly on the front panels of audio and video equipment, will indeed make lighting better. But precedent suggests that this will serve merely to increase the demand for light. The consequence may not be just more light for the same amount of energy, but an actual increase in energy consumption, rather than the decrease hoped for by those promoting new forms of lighting.
That, at least, is the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics by Jeff Tsao of Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and his colleagues. They predict that the introduction of solid-state lighting could increase the consumption of light by a factor of ten within two decades.
To work out what solid-state lighting would do to the use of light by 2030, Dr Tsao and his colleagues made some assumptions about global economic output, the price of energy, the efficiency of the new technology and its cost. Assuming that, by 2030, solid-state lights will be about three times more efficient than fluorescent ones and that the price of electricity stays the same in real terms, the number of megalumen-hours consumed by the average person will, according to their model, rise tenfold, from 20 to 202. The amount of electricity needed to generate that light would more than double. Only if the price of electricity were to triple would the amount of electricity used to generate light start to fall by 2030.
Dr Tsao and his colleagues see no immediate end to this process by which improvements in the supply of light stimulate the desire for more—rather as the construction of that other environmental bête noire, roads, stimulates the growth of traffic.
It is worth remembering that when gas lights replaced candles and oil lamps in the 19th century, some newspapers reported that they were “glaring” and “dazzling white”. In fact, a gas jet of the time gave off about as much light as a 25 watt incandescent bulb does today. To modern eyes, that is well on the dim side. So, for those who truly wish to reduce the amount of energy expended on lighting the answer may not be to ban old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, as is the current trend, but to make them compulsory.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Why energy efficiency is bad for the environment - example of the electric car

[It amazes and baffles me why so many eminent economists think energy efficiency is the answer to the global challenge of a warming planet. Energy efficiency, as a solution for global warming, violates all the basic principles we learned in Economics 101. Let me explain:

I believe it is a generally accepted principle that any increase in living standards comes only with an increase in productivity. Throughout history an increase in living standards has always resulted in an increase in energy consumption, because consumers can afford more physical good such as cars and appliances. They can eat also afford richer diets of meat and travel more.

Simply put, productivity means more units of output for every unit of input. Inputs are primarily made up of raw material, labour and energy. Outputs can be anything from physical goods such as automobiles to every day services such as hair cuts.

The electric car as being touted as one of the saviors from the environmental damage caused by the internal combustion engine. There is no question that an electric vehicle will consume far less energy than a traditional fossil fuel driven car. And pound for pound basis it will produce far less CO2, than today’s gas guzzlers, even if the electricity comes solely from coal fired power plants. So how can electric vehicles be bad for the environment??

Simple economics. The electric vehicle is an example of increased productivity through energy efficiency. Once car manufacturers reduce the cost of batteries as the industry scales up the electric car will far cheaper to run and operate than today’s vehicles. In terms of miles per Watt the electric vehicle is far more efficient than today’s automobiles. This means that many more millions of families around the world will now be able to afford a car for the first time in their lives. India’s Tata Nano is a great example of a low cost vehicle for the masses – but given the price of gasoline (and its pending shortage) the biggest cost of the Nano over its lifetime will be in its fuel consumption and not its capital cost. But imagine if the Tata was an electric vehicle – then that huge potential of fuel cost is eliminated.

The automobile is the standard bearer of an economy’s move from an agrarian to a modern industrial society. Electric vehicles will be especially attractive to countries which have to import most of their oil, as they can use their dirty coal plants to power the millions of electric vehicles.

So while energy efficiency through electric vehicles may reduce the overall CO2 emissions in rich industrialized nations (assuming there is a one to one replacement of gasoline powered cars with electric vehicles) its decreased cost will enable millions of more families in the developed world to buy cars. As a result the absolute volume of CO2 emissions will increase over time as most of the electric power for these vehicles will come from coal plants. As many of you know this phenomena of energy efficiency is called the Jevons paradox or the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate. Simply stated energy efficiency at the micro level paradoxically increases energy consumption at the macro level. Even if we implement a substantial carbon tax, the efficiencies of the electric vehicle will still make it affordable for many millions of families around the world to buy a car for the first time.

It is not only electric vehicles, but data centers, computers and host of other products and services where we see this phenomena at play. The narrow focus on energy efficiency in any particular field may save money for an individual or company, but the bottom line is that increased energy efficiency means increased productivity and ultimately greater affordability for millions around the world. As a result overall energy consumption will increase as millions more can afford these products and services. In turn, if most of this electricity comes from coal fired plants, the global volume of GHG emissions will invariably rise.

So what is the answer? Are we to throw are hands up in despair that there is no solution to climate change?

No. We have to rethink the problem. The biggest challenge facing the planet is not energy consumption, but the type of energy we consume. If all our energy came from renewable sources than any growth in demand for energy as a result of inevitable growth in productivity will not result in a concomitant increase of GHG emissions. So rather then designing products and services to be more energy efficient, we should instead focus on how these devices can operate using solely renewable energy.

The biggest challenge with renewable energy is its unreliability. Energy storage is part of the solution, as well continent spanning electrical grids. But, in addition, I believe we need a sustained research effort in designing products and services that can still be just as reliable as today, but powered solely by local renewable energy. In the Internet and computing world this is relatively easy – in Canada for example we are deploying the world’s first zero carbon Internet/cloud where all the computing and routing nodes are powered solely by local renewable resources. Again the significance of this approach is that GHG emissions will not increase as energy consumption increases when the network scales to meet growth in demand for new services.

In terms of the electric car I have proposed “mobile electric vehicle charging” as a solution where solar panel and windmills along the roadside or at drive through fast food restaurants are used to recharge vehicles as they drive by, or waiting in a queue at a traffic light or take out counter. Rather than using dirty electricity from the grid, this approach insures electric vehicles are powered only by renewable energy. Its also a technology that takes advantage of the North America drive through life style, as opposed to some other hair shirt approaches through environmental denialism. For more details please see

If we have any hope of addressing climate change we have got to start addressing the real problem – GHG emissions, not energy consumption. As quickly as possible we need to eliminate coal fired power stations and switch to renewable energy. But using renewable energy means rethinking our entire energy architecture. This not only entail changes at the production side with smart grids etc, but also changes at the consumption side in terms of devising solutions that can use such unreliable power.

Think carbon, not energy.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Open Source solar powered GSM Cell phone system - ideal for university R&E MVNO networks

[I am working with a couple R&E networks that are looking at deploying their MVNO cell phone network integrated with campus WiFi facilities for data offload. This announcement open source, solar powered cell phone system will be a boom for R&E networks that want to utilize their fiber facilities and provide national (and international) cell phone services for researchers and students not available from traditional cell phone companies. No more usurious roaming and data charges. For more information please see my past blogs on building 5G networks—BSA]

Today I bring you a story that has it all: a solar-powered, low-cost, open source cellular network that's revolutionizing coverage in underprivileged and off-grid spots. It uses VoIP yet works with existing cell phones. It has pedigreed founders. Best of all, it is part of the sex, drugs and art collectively known as Burning Man. Where do you want me to begin?
"We make GSM look like a wireless access point. We make it that simple," describes one of the project's three founders, Glenn Edens.
The technology starts with the "they-said-it-couldn't-be-done" open source software,OpenBTS. OpenBTS is built on Linux and distributed via the AGPLv3 license. When used with a software-defined radio such as the Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP), it presents a GSM air interface ("Um") to any standard GSM cell phone, with no modification whatsoever required of the phone. It uses open source Asterisk VoIP software as the PBX to connect calls, though it can be used with other soft switches, too. (More stats in a minute that I promise will blow away your inner network engineer.)
This is the third year its founders have decided to trial-by-fire the system by offering free cell phone service to the 50,000-ish attendees at Burning Man, which begins today in Black Rock City, Nevada. I've posted a few photos of the set-up here. But the project is still new and mostly unheard-of. The second-generation hardware is in beta and the project’s commercial start-up, Range Networks, won't emerge from stealth mode until September (at theDEMO conference).
Two of OpenBTS's three founders are a duo of wireless design gurus that make up Kestrel Signal Processing: David Burgess and Harvind Samra. The third is industry luminary Glenn Edens, the same Edens who founded Grid Systems, maker of the first laptop in the early ‘80s, who is also known as the former director of Sun Microsystem’s Laboratories (among his other credentials). He is Range Networks’ CEO.
Burning Man has become a brutal, but great test vehicle. "There are not too many places you can go where tens of thousands of people show up, all of them with cell phones, in a hostile physical environment – lots of heat and dust, with no power and no cell service," Edens says.
GSM operates on licensed bandwidth, so for any U.S. installation, the OpenBTS crew always obtains a FCC license and works with the local carrier to coordinate frequency use. When attendees get into range and power up their phones, the system sends them a text that says “Reply to this message with your phone number and you can send and receive text messages and make voice calls.”
Edens notes: "You can also make phone calls to any number, but you can’t receive them, except from other people at Burning Man. We don’t have a roaming agreement in place with any carriers yet. So calls from people out of range from Burning Man will go to voicemail … but you can check your voicemail." (You can follow the progress of the system setup onBurgess's blog).
Edens jokes that Kestrel gets an equal number of compliments and complaints for making cell phones accessible at the event. You win some and you lose some.
Certainly, the potential of OpenBTS is a winner. The system is only "as big as a shoebox," Edens says, and requires a mere 50 watts of power "instead of a couple of thousand" so it is easily supported by solar or wind power, or batteries. It performs as well as any other GSM base station which has a maximum range of 35 kilometers and a typical range of 20 kilometers, depending on geography, antennae height, etc.
It can use a wireless backhaul, too. "We’re working with UC Berkeley on a really interesting project on super long distance wireless backhaul. We can also use private microwave and all the usual backhaul technologies," Edens says. A full‐power base station with software costs around $10,000. Compare that to the typical $50,000 - $100,000 investment for base station controllers, mobile switching centers and "a whole lot of plumbing" to bring in power, backhaul, etc., in a traditional cellular network.
Like other GSM cell networks, OpenBTS networks can connect to the public switched network and the Internet. Because it converts to VoIP, it "makes every cell phone look like a SIP end point … and every cell phone looks like an IP device. But we don’t touch anything in the phone … any GSM phone will work, from a $15 refurbished cell phone all the way up to iPhones and Androids." Low cost phones are particularly important for projects in impoverished areas, where people can benefit most from better communications services.
"The UN and ITU studies show that when you bring communications services to an area, healthcare goes up, economic well being goes up, education goes up," Edens says, noting that costs and power needs are low enough that even a small earthquake, we sent a system that was installed at the main hospital in Port Au Prince. They had it working an hour after unpacking it from the box. The hospital PBX was down. They used it as their phone system for about two weeks."
Kestral has sold about 150 units, hardware and software, since last January, with trial systems installed in India, Africa, the South Pacific and a number of other countries. The team has also done a few private installations like oil fields, farms, and ships at sea. They are also providing a system to the Australian Base in Antarctica. Plus OpenBTS has been downloaded about 4,000 times, mostly by researchers able to build their own base stations. It is also of interest for military communications, law enforcement and DARPA projects.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

ITU-UNESCO - Broadband could eliminate CO2 equivalent to 50% of US coal plant emissions

[The Broadband commission is a joint effort of ITU and UNESCO. It is made up of some very prestigious folks such as Carlos Slim, John Chambers, heads of government etc. While the numbers they quote are impressive in terms of the impact of broadband in reducing GHG emissions, I still believe that the greatest benefit will be to use broadband as a key component of a cap and reward system. Cap and reward is an alternative to carbon taxes and/or cap and trade where consumers are provided credits in order to purchase low carbon products and services. For more details please see -- BSA]

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development believes that high-speed, high-capacity broadband connections to the Internet are an essential element in modern society, with wide economic and social benefits. Its mission is to promote the adoption of broadband-friendly practice and policies so that the entire world can take advantage of the benefits broadband can offer.
More specifically, the Broadband Commission wants to demonstrate that broadband networks:
• have the same level of importance as roads and electricity networks; they are basic infrastructure in a modern society;
• are uniquely powerful tools for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);
• are remarkably cost-effective and offer an impressive return-on-investment (ROI) for both developed and developing economies;
• underpin all industrial sectors and increasingly are the foundation of public services and social progress
• must be coordinated nationally by governments in partnership with industry, in order too reap the full benefit of these powerful tools.

The establishment of the Broadband Commission in 2010 comes five years after the World Summit on the Information Society, and ten years after the launch of the Millennium Development Goals. Expanding broadband access in every country is the key way to accelerate attainment of those goals by the target date of 2015. The Broadband Commission will define practical ways in which countries — at all stages of development — can achieve this, in cooperation with the private sector.
The Commissioners represent governments from around the world, relevant industries, international agencies, and organizations concerned with development. Leaders in their field, they each present on this site a vision for a future based on broadband.

The Broadband Commission will report its findings to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2010, immediately before the summit to be held in New York to review work on achieving the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015. With only five years left before then, broadband networks are an essential and uniquely powerful tool for achieving those goals and lifting people out of poverty worldwide.

The initial outcomes of the Commission will take the form of two reports. Broadband: A Leadership Imperative, will be a concise, high-level report that directly reflects input from the Commissioners. Broadband: A Platform for Progress will be a comprehensive analytical report that looks at financing models, return on investment, technology choices, and strategies for deployment across a range of different types of economies.

Tackling the climate change challenge through broadband
“ICTs [information and communication technologies] are vital to confronting one of the biggest
problems we face as a planet: the threat of climate change” – Ban Ki-moon, United Nations
Secretary General, at ITU Telecom World 2009

It is now widely recognized that universal broadband networks have enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that threaten dangerous global warming, as well as an important role in monitoring the impact of climate change and helping communities to adapt.

Estimates cited by the US National Broadband Plan suggest that broadband and ICTs could prevent more than a billion metric tons of US carbon emissions per year by 2020, equivalent to half the current total emissions of US coal-fired power stations. Similarly, the European Union’s Digital Agenda envisages a key role for broadband in meeting the EU’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 (from 1990 levels).

Broadband opportunities to combat climate change include:
• Smart grids, coupled with smart meters in homes and businesses, to manage electricity demand, boost network
efficiency and make it easy to integrate renewable energy sources.
• Smart buildings designed to minimize energy consumption (or power themselves), including systems to automatically
turn off lighting and appliances not in use.
• Smart motor systems to improve efficiency of industrial processes;
• Smart transport and logistics systems to cut energy use through better management of traffic and freight. One example: the global freight forwarding company UPS calculates it saved 3.1 million gallons of fuel in one year simply by plotting delivery routes that enabled its trucks to take advantage of ‘turn right on red’ US traffic laws and so reduce idling time.
• E-commerce, teleconferencing and teleworking to reduce transport and travel demands (and reduce the need to construct energy-consuming offices and shops). High-definition ‘telepresence’ systems are transforming videoconferencing and extending its applications. International analyst The Gartner Group estimates video ‘telepresence’
will replace over two million airline seats by 2012.
• ‘Dematerialization’ to replace physical objects – CDs, DVDs, books, newspapers, maps, paper invoices and documents – with virtual ones.

Collectively, such measures could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15%, five times the ICT industry’s own carbon footprint. Nevertheless, minimizing this footprint – which currently amounts to 2-3% of global emissions, around the same as the entire aviation industry – is also essential. Data centres already consume more electricity than countries like Argentina or the Netherlands. In a typical office building, ICTs may account for 40% of all energy consumed, the
second biggest energy drain after heating and cooling. As broadband becomes standard infrastructure, these figures could climb still higher.

Measures now being adopted include moving data centres to cooler locations or powering them with renewable energy, the adoption of a universal energy-efficient charger that fits all new mobile phone models – globally standardized by ITU in 2009 – and introduction of new technologies such as next generation networks (NGNs) that can cut emissions by 40%.

ITU is supporting these efforts by developing a common methodology for measuring the industry’s carbon footprint, and promoting more energy-efficient ICTs through standard setting. It is also ‘greening’ its own operations. In September 2009 ITU organized the first-ever virtual conference on ICTs and climate change, with more than 400 virtual participants and 19 experts speaking virtually from nine different locations. By 2012, says Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, the organization aims to be climate neutral.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

The Green data center market will be $40 billion by 2015

[When many people talk of data centers they usually think of the gargantuan facilities deployed by Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others. But the much larger market is the thousands of smaller data centers operated by governments, industry and universities. These are the ones that will be most affected by the rising cost of electricity and government programs to tax carbon. Lowering PUEs is only a stop-gap solution and does not address the insatiable demand for new ICT services. By some estimates data centers will consume 12% of all electricity in the US by 2020. Data centers are the heavy industry of the information age. This kind of energy consumption is neither sustainable or affordable. We need new data center architectures that use only renewable energy and are disconnected from the electrical grid, because even if the utilities provide green power, competitive pressures will make it as pricey or pricier than dirty electrical power. Building distributed data centers where the facility owns the power source such as micro hydro, windmills etc is the only answer. – BSA]

If my comments on data centres yesterday were of interest then you might want to know that Pike Research has just released a report on green data centres.
The report points out that the evolution of the ‘green’ data centre is closely connected to other changes which all have an impact, including technical innovation, new design principles, operational improvement, changes to the relationship between IT and business and changes in the data centre supply chain.
The report forecasts that the revenue from green data centres will exceed $40bn worldwide by 2015. North America and Europe will lead the way in the short term, but the Asian market will catch up quickly as its data centre capacity grows.

The report identifies a number of trends shaping the market, including:
• While the industry has, in the past, indiscriminately built out new capacity to meet requirements, it is now being forced to consider the physical environment and natural resources on which it depended and the costs they represent.
• The trend over the next five years will be a move toward a total virtualisation of the data centre to deliver computer services from both public and private cloud models.
• As IT provision becomes more dynamic under the influence of virtualisation and cloud computing, so a more dynamic view of data centre infrastructure is emerging – flexible and adaptable.
• This new infrastructure environment will require more sophisticated management tools and a holistic view of the entire
• The green agenda means that the data centre is part of a broader sustainability program and true cost must be made more visible.
• The cost of the data centre can only be fully assessed if both the resources it uses and the work it does can be measured. Work is being done to define an acceptable measure for the productivity of the data centre.

The report points out that the changes to data centres are inevitable, but the rate of change is hard to predict. In the case of data centres I believe that legislation will probably have the biggest impact.
There’s lots of activity to reduce energy use in business but in the case of data centres it tends to be one-off, quick wins. As IT use in business continues to expand (and is used to help reduce emissions elsewhere) there’s a need for longer-term measures that may only be dictated by legislation. For example the CRC cap-and-trade scheme in the UK is pulling in a lot of companies simply because of the energy used in their data centres. Companies stand to lose money and feel the impact on their reputation by such legislation.
© The Green IT Review

Why Data Centre Owners Want Carbon Laws Terminated:

The relationship between technology and environmental sustainability is obviously more nuanced than popular culture would have us believe. The massive green elephant in the room is the whole rise of so-called clean technology and renewable energy - from wind turbines to hydrogen fuel cells - which are all dependent on new and innovative technology. Overhauling power grids and the way consumers monitor their energy use will save huge amounts of carbon. But this application of so-called smart meters and grids isn’t possible without upgrading existing infrastructure and rolling-out new technology. Counter-intuitively, to lessen the impact of tech on the environment we have to build more of it.
But another aspect to the complex relationship between the environment and technological progress is that technology - specifically IT - has the potential to not only become more sustainable through refinement but actually lessen the impact of other man-made activities. A power-efficient data centre which utilises renewable energy, such as the Other World Computing (OWC) facility in Woodstock Illinois, is not only inherently sustainable but the tools it could provide - email, web collaboration and video conferencing - replace the need for more carbon intensive activities such as air-travel.
The idea that IT can actually be an environmental force for good was raised this week by data centre specialist Migration Solutions. The organisation was voicing its concerns over the government’s recent energy policy which could see power costs rise by 40 percent for some businesses. If such price-rises came into effect, it might prompt some data centre operators to relocate their facilities to countries with more favourable energy policies, the organisation warned.
Migration Solutions along with other players in the data centre industry, are keen to point out the complex relationship between IT and the environment. Yes, data centres are heavy users of electricity and producers of carbon dioxide - a report to the US congress back in 2006 found that 1.5 percent of national electricity demand came from energy consumption of data centres. But crucially, they can also help reduce emissions in other areas. “Information Technology (IT) uses two percent of the country’s electricity but it also provides many of the solutions that will reduce our domestic power consumption and carbon emissions,” said Migration’s boss Alex Rabbetts
Carbon Reduction Commitment
Vendor industry groups such as Intellect want this contribution to overall sustainability to be recognised by the government. Specifically, the organisaton has a campaign underway to make data centre operators a special case under the recently introduced Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). “The cross-sector energy efficiencies enabled by IT could deliver global emission savings of approximately 7.8 Gt carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 - equivalent to carbon savings five times larger than the total emissions from the entire IT sector, and to €600 billion of cost savings,” a recent Intellect report, Data Centres: The Backbone of the UK Economy, claims.
Whether the government will heed these claims is unclear. Specifically Intellect et al are pushing for a Carbon Change Agreement (CCA) as an answer and possible alternative to the strict rules laid down in the CRC. Given some of the anti-tech policies enacted by the coalition so far, it doesn’t seem likely that IT facilities will be given special dispensation.
At the end of the day it all depends on whether the powers-that-be can be persuaded to embrace the idea that IT could help to contribute to the goal it has set itself of becoming thegreenest government in UK history. Alternatively, they might just decide the claims made by Intellect and the data centre industry are just so much science-fiction.

twitter: BillStArnaud
skype: Pocketpro

The sun never sets in the future of high performance computing and networking

[Great article that portends the future low carbon economy. Excerpts - BSA]

When the sun sets on the Communications Research Centre in Ottawa, Canada, the solar-powered computational jobs might be sent across the high-speed connection to the Cybera data center in Calgary, where its still bright and sunny. And when the sun stops shining in Calgary, if the wind is blowing at the wind-powered BastionHost facility in Truro, Nova Scotia, then the jobs could be sent back east.

Most forms of renewable energy are not reliable at any given location. But Canadas Green Star Network aims to demonstrate that by allowing the computations to follow the renewable energy across a large, fast network, the footprint of high-throughput computing can be drastically reduced.

What we hope to explore at a high level is whether the concept has merit, said Martin Brooks, an independent research consultant working on the GSN; Brooks recently retired from the National Research Councils Institute for Information Technology.

If it is successful, said Brooks, the GSN will develop new methods for reducing the carbon footprint of computational resources, and develop a standard that will allow people to innovate in this area.

The advantages of GSNs approach go beyond those conferred by the use of renewable energy sources. Normally, once electricity is generated at large power plants, it must travel large distances via the power grid to reach the computers that power computational science. In the process, a great deal of power `is wasted, dissipated via the resistance of the power lines.

By using the energy where it is generated, the Green Star Networks data centers will also use less energy.

There will probably be some applications that its not appropriate to move, so there are some applications that are not appropriate for this sort of agile environment, Brooks said. The kind of applications that we expect to field will include server structures of different kinds, web servers and other ordinary internet services like that, and well also include some computation intensive nodes.

The key part of the project is the controller, that takes in information about computational load at each node and energy availability at each node and reallocates the computations to keep them running as the various nodes go up and down because of wind and solar variability, explained John Spence, a researcher emeritus at the Communications Research Centre Canada.

The controller will manage GSNs middleware, which leverages existing interoperability projects such as the Open Cloud Computing Interface and Network Service Interface. Interoperability is crucial to the GSN because international partnerships are crucial; in a network with nodes covering every time zone, the sun will always be shining somewhere.

Already, the GSN has formed associate partnerships with i2cat in Spain, HEAnet and NDRC in Ireland, IBBT in Belgium, and ESnet and
Calit2 in the United States.

The project is young, but making steady progress.

Once it is up and running, the GeoChronos science gateway will be among the first to try it out.

Related articles:

Reducing the ICT Sectors Carbon Footprint (pdf), by Andrew Mackarel, HEAnet Program Manager

Case study: The GeoChronos web portal, by Miriam Boon, iSGTW

Miriam Boon, iSGTW

Monday, August 2, 2010

Globe and Mail-- Canadian researchers hope to green the web and make Canada the world's web server

[Here is an excellent article on the Greenstar project and the significant economic opportunity of using renewable energy to power the world’s Internet servers. Rather than shipping our raw power to the US, Canada should be using it as a leverage to create a low carbon economy. Iceland and Norway have national initiatives along these lines and Quebec has recently announced a $60m Green ICT program. In Iceland for example a startup is establishing Green Cloud that maps directly to Amazon EC2 – BSA]

Canadian researchers hope to green the web and make Canada the world's web server
“Interconnected data centers powered by wind, sun, could drastically reduce IT carbon footprints…”

Iceland Greenqloud

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Computers and ICT in Australia account for 8% energy consumption - education biggest contributor

[Here is an excellent report by the computer association of Australia measuring the impact of computing and ICT on Australia’s carbon footprint. One of the notable factoids is that education and training sector is the largest contributor to this energy consumption and CO2 emissions. I believe this once again confirms the critical leadership role that R&E networks and institutions must play in helping reduce a nation’s carbon footprint and energy consumption. Overall the growth of ICT energy consumption is about 6% per year and probably even faster in the education and training sector. With this growth rate the energy consumption of ICT will double within a decade!! This is unsustainable. The use of ICT in education and training is probably the one sector where more adaptable and flexible solutions can be developed that are powered solely by renewable energy –BSA]

Carbon and Computers in Australia - Full Report [PDF - 1.42MB]

twitter: BillStArnaud
skype: Pocketpro

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New sources of funding (>$24 Billion) for researchers from carbon and cleantech funds

[University researchers around the world are going to have to start to realize that funding from traditional sources such as funding councils and granting agencies will most likely decline over the coming years as governments face huge financial burdens as a result of last year’s financial crisis. A major new source of funding for research including, cyber-infrastructure, R&E networks and IT will have to come from the burgeoning climate and clean tech funds. Most of these programs earn their revenue are from a surtax on gasoline, coal or other large CO2 emissions. As a result their funding base is independent of the fickleness of government finances. As the threat of climate change becomes more real it is likely that these funds will grow significantly, as it is only through innovation do we have the faintest hope of addressing the biggest challenge facing this planet today.

Unfortunately most of this funds research is currently focused on energy research and carbon sequestration. Few yet recognize the importance of IT in reducing GHG emissions. The only exception is Quebec – with its recent announcement of $60 million for Green IT research.

I am working closely with various groups around the world such CAL-IT2 at UCSD, PROMPTinc ClimateCheck , CSA and others to help educate the administrators of these funds on the importance of funding IT research, cyber-infrastructure and networks. More importantly researchers and cyber-infrastructure providers need to understand that any application for funding must go through a much rigorous analysis in terms of the benefits of the research to reducing GHG emissions. Simple hand waving exercises on energy efficiency will not be sufficient as often is the case with traditional research proposals. Understanding how to genuinely reduce carbon, GHG protocols and the standards process will be essential if a researcher or research institution hopes to tap into these funds.

For more details on how to receive funding from these programs please see my NYSERnet presentation:

--Excerpts from Andy Revkin article in NY tomes BSA]

Filling the Global Energy Research Gap
Earlier this week, the International Energy Agency released a batch of new findings and reports as its contribution to the Obama administration’s “Clean Energy Ministerial” meeting in Washington. In any case, a more important analysis was the agency’s fresh look at trends in government support for research, development and demonstration of low-carbon energy technologies and ways for countries to collaborate to accelerate energy innovation.
The report describes how India, despite its poverty, has moved ahead with an initiative for raising money for energy research that the United States — thanks to a lack of leadership, congressional polarization and fear of anything remotely resembling a tax — has so far been unable to do: India has created a National Clean Energy Fund for research and innovation financed by a levy of $1.10 (U.S.) per metric ton of mined or imported coal. It’s a very modest fee that has created hundreds of millions of dollars to stimulate Indian research and testing of promising technologies.
I think that, particularly with presidential leadership, there could be more than 60 Democrats and Republicans in the Senate who could get behind the case for fueling an American energy quest this way, or with a directed 2-cent-per-gallon nudge to the gasoline tax, which alone would triple our research budget compared to the pre-stimulus level.
Here’s an excerpt and link to the full report:
The IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2008 called for a clean energy revolution to address global energy security, energy access and environmental challenges. The recently released Energy Technology Perspectives 2010confirms that the transition has begun to a low-carbon economy. The past decade has seen an investment surge in clean energy technologies as governments made bold commitments to fund LCETs.
The 2008-09 green stimulus spending announcements were welcome increases in public RD&D, but is seems they are largely one-time commitments. Further, some governments are backing away from their stimulus spending announcements, and industry is reducing its investments. This is particularly worrisome as clean energy technologies continue to cost more, on an unsubsidized basis, than traditional fossil-based technologies and it is unlikely that a global price on CO2 will be settled in the near future. A great deal more must be done to bridge the gap between the estimated $10 billion in annual pre-stimulus spending and $40 billion to $90 billion needed to achieve sustainable energy goals

twitter: BillStArnaud
skype: Pocketpro

Organizing research and teaching at universities to address the grand challenges of sustainability

[An excellent article by the president of Arizona State University on the need for universities to fundamentally re-organize themselves to address the global challenges of sustainability and climate change. The institutions that are at the forefront of the science behind climate change, are surprisingly very slow in adapting their organizational structure and operations to deal with this imminent threat. It amazes me how few people at our universities appreciate the real and present danger of run away global warming. Even a 1C or 2C average temperature increase is going to have dramatic effects on society and economy as noted in the recent National Research Council report: “Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations.” As the Nobel prize winning columnist Paul Krugman noted that the although there still remains a lot of uncertainty about the magnitude of climate change, there is a small probability of catastrophic outcomes for this planet. “Current projections of global warming in the absence of action are just too close to the kinds of numbers associated with doomsday scenarios. It would be irresponsible — it’s tempting to say criminally irresponsible — not to step back from what could all too easily turn out to be the edge of a cliff. This risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy. ”

As I have long argued the low hanging fruit for organizational change at universities is with cyber-infrastructure, networks and clouds. Computers, networks and HPC systems constitute a significant portion of the energy consumption at many universities. We have the solutions in hand to eliminate the huge carbon footprint of cyber-infrastructure and to enhance the quality of science that can be done with such facilities. Universities and R&E networks, to my mind, should be at the forefront of organizational change to deal with the challenges of climate change. For more thinking along this line please see the following paper in Educause Review written by myself, Larry Smarr, Tom Defanti and Jerry Sheehan “Cyber-infrastructure in a Carbon Constrained World”

Organizing Teaching and Research to Address the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Development

National Research Council
Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations

Climate Change and Higher Education
“Cyber-infrastructure in a Carbon Constrained World”

More on revenue opportunities for R&E and open access networks - building next generation "5G" wireless network
New revenue opportunities for R&E networks in helping universities reduce their energy costs
Cloud helps universities reduce costs by 74% - more clouds reduce energy costs
Cloud computing breakthru! CENIC & PNWGP have connected 10G lightpaths to Amazon compute & storage, OOI CI early user
EEE Green House Gas standards for 5G networks and Green ICT
CO2 emissions from US datacenters greater than all CO2 emissions from Netherlands or Argentina
Amazon joins Top500 supercomputer list with its Cluster Compute service ...
What A Price on Carbon Would Cost University Data Center Operators
Moving beyond cyber-infrastructure - greening and moving HPC into the cloud
Industry and universities must prepare for next Y2K - "CO2K"
OECD recommends that basic research in ICT should be supported through carbon offset mechanisms
Enabling Innovation with next generation wireless 5G Internet + clouds - technical details PM Apr 25th via web
85% of research computing can be done using clouds
The Rise of Research-driven Cloud Computing
More on building a 5G wireless mobile R&E green network

twitter: BillStArnaud
skype: Pocketpro

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