Green Internet and Cyber-infrastructure Overview
Governments around the world are wrestling with the challenge of how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The current preferred approaches are to impose carbon taxes and implement various forms of cap and trade. However another approach to help reduce carbon emission is to “reward” those directly who reduce their carbon footprint and complement their existing lifestyle. One possible reward system is to provide homeowners with free fiber to the home or free wireless products and other electronic services such as ebooks and eMovies if they deploy micro renewable energy sources for their ICT equipment and use eVehicles for energy transportation. Not only does the consumer benefit, but this business model also provides new revenue opportunities for small businesses, network operators, and eCommerce application providers.
Linking renewable energy with the Internet using eVehicles and dynamic charging where vehicle's batteries are charged as it travels along the road, may provide for a whole new "energy Internet" infrastructure for linking small distributed renewable energy sources to users. For more details please see:
How North American suburban sprawl could be the answer to global warning: http://goo.gl/UDz37
Free High Speed Internet to the Home: http://goo.gl/wGjVG
High level architecture of Building Zero Carbon Networks: http://goo.gl/juWdH
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
New revenue opportunities for R&E networks, JISC, Educause, Terena - CO2 offset aggregation
Completing an inventory that is ISO 14064 compliant is the first step in addressing GHG emissions. Use of ISO 14064 or similar standards are important because it then sets the stage for developing processes for verifiable and auditable GHG reductions. The next step for the institution is now to implement processes that reduce GHG emissions from that baseline.
However any process that reduces GHG on a campus should be developed under a GHG protocol as a standard and then submitted to various registry/programs like RGGI, WCI,VRO, etc to make sure it meets with their requirements. Although there is a lot of rightful skepticism about the carbon trading markets which may make the last financial crisis look like a walk in the park, there is still considerable value in undertaking a proper ISO 14064 inventory and developing offset protocol standards to meet government mandated or institutional commitments to be carbon neutral. There are lot of “green washing” claims out there by various vendors and so undertaking an proper registered standard for such claims whether it is video conferencing, cloud computing, virtualization, distance education or whatever will allow for verifiable and auditable GHG reductions that will meet the requirements of government regulators and financial auditors .
Companies like ClimateCheck (http://climate-check.com/) and Canadian Standards Association (http://www.csa.ca/cm/ca/en/climate-change) are working with universities and business around the world to help develop these standards. For example CSA is working with GReenstar project – the world’s first zero carbon Internet – to develop the necessary standards for follow the wind/follow the sun cyber-infrastructure which will be submitted to the various registries/programs in North America for certification and acceptance.
For example if a university develops a new virtual machine or cloud project that reduces energy consumption and GHG emissions – they should try to document this new application within the aspects of a new GHG standard that can be submitted to the various registries. Even if the application has nothing to do with IT, it still should be done within a GHG standards protocol. For example UC Irvine has been doing some excellent work on reducing the GHG impact of fume hoods which often have a much larger GHG footprint then computing and data centers.
Once one institution had undertaken the development of a standard and have it accepted by various registries then other institutions can reference that standard for their individual projects for the same application. The GHG offset claim can be registered with a recognized registry and assigned a serial number. The institution can then reference the auditable and verifiable serialized offset to demonstrate to government regulators or financial auditors as proof of claims of reducing its GHG footprint. Most offsets in fact will probably never be traded on commercial exchanges but consumed internally within an organization or a community of organizations. Some GHG programs and registries (as for example in Alberta) are allowing the offsets to be used to provide new funding for research.
The big fly in the ointment for this strategy is that it may cost several thousand to several hundred thousand dollars to develop a new GHG standard. For an individual institution this upfront cost undermines the business case for developing the standard or even claiming the offset. This is where R&E networks and organizations like JISC, Educause or Terena, etc can play an important role. On behalf of their members they can work with organizations like ClimateCheck or CSA or inculcate their own expertise to develop the various standards for a variety of applications and insure they meet the requirements of the various registries around the world. This one time effort to develop a particular standard can then be referenced by member institutions in their various GHG reduction projects.
Equipment vendors could also pay for the development of a standard as it will then help the sale of their product – and in some case the vendor’s can self finance such products to meet their own GHG commitments. Many equipment vendors have large funds to purchase offsets in the commercial marketplace in order to meet their own public carbon neutrality commitments. Many despair at the quality and quantity of offsets in the commercial marketplace and are looking for alternative solutions. Using offsets to help your customer purchase your product is a win win situation for both the vendor and the customer. But this can only be done with standards based offsets that are verifiable and auditable.
The other challenge with offsets particularly for IT, GHG reduction applications is their small size. There is no way an institution can justify investment in the development of a standard for a process that reduces GHG emissions by a few kilograms. Again R&E networks or organizations like JISC, Terena, EDucuase, etc can act as aggregators to collect all the hundreds of small offsets into a larger registered offset. This type of aggregation is done for many GHG projects such as no-till agriculture where hundreds of small GHG reductions from farms are aggregated into a single large offset. Aggregators charge a fee to do this. A similar fee could be charged by R&E networks to aggregate many small offsets and to pay for the development of the standard. These same institutions can also act as an honest broker to enable the trading of offsets between their members.
I am working with PROMPT in Quebec and CAL-IT2 at UCSD in San Diego to explore how such a strategy may promote research collaboration between Canada and California, but more importantly identify a new source of funding to support IT research that is independent of traditional government research programs. I would welcome input from researchers and educators in California and Canada who would like to explore this opportunity – BSA]
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