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 30, 2010
The Madness and Delusions of Energy Efficiency – throwing pillows off the Titanic
One of the greatest challenges facing the planet is climate change. The degree and speed at which the earth is warming is unprecedented. To date most solutions to address climate change have focused on energy efficiency. Unfortunately energy efficiency is like throwing pillows off the Titanic. While this might slow down the rate of sinking a tiny bit it ignores the real problem of fixing the hole in the hull and/or manning the life boats. The problem we face is not the amount of energy we consume or its rate of consumption, but the type of energy we are using. Moving to the use of renewable energy which produces very little carbon is critical. But most renewable energy is extremely unreliable and not well suited for today’s electrical grid. Information, computing and telecommunications (ICT) technologies can play an important role by allowing us to be much more creative in our use of renewable energy in all sectors of our society. By applying ICT across the various NRC institutes we can develop innovative new solutions for future low carbon economy. It will also create new opportunities for investment, jobs and research funding. Mobile vehicle charging, 5G wireless networks, 400 Hz multiplex power systems, next generation zero carbon Internet, zero carbon computer architectues, cap and reward are some examples of this type of innovative thinking.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Canada's Advanced Research Network, CANARIE, and the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP) to provide funding
June 9 -- The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and CLUMEQ, a Canadian High Performance Computing consortium led by McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, have been awarded grants from Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE) and the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP) to design an ultra-efficient datacenter as part of a program to promote 'green'
Under the partnership, SDSC and CLUMEQ/McGill University researchers will design and build a business case and a conceptual design for a jointly-managed, ultra-efficient datacenter to be built in Quebec, which has an abundance of green hydroelectric power and an ideally suited cool climate that can provide 'free cooling' to the datacenter's high-performance computer systems for much of the year.
Hydro Quebec, Quebec's state-owned utility, Rumsey Engineering of Oakland, California, and ClimateCHECK, an Ottawa-based firm specializing in green house gas (GHG) emission standards and measurement, are collaborating on the project.
Researchers from SDSC and CLUMEQ will be presenting the preliminary conceptual design at the upcoming GSMI Green Data Center Conference June 15-17 at SDSC.
Such a datacenter would offer energy-efficient co-location and managed hosting services to the high-performance computing (HPC) and research communities served by the University of California and through CLUMEQ to Canadian researchers. The current scalable datacenter design would achieve a "power usage effectiveness" ratio, or PUE, of 1.1 or lower by leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as natural thermal storage through a man-made ice pond.
"At SDSC we operate one of the most efficient facilities in the region and, through various efficiency projects, have achieved a PUE of 1.35," said Dallas Thornton, SDSC's Division Director of Cyberinfrastructure Services. "This project focuses on designing an even more efficient facility that capitalizes on unique site capabilities available in Quebec, while developing a business model for the bilateral effort's success. This is an exciting project that will benefit both Canadians and Californians."
A PUE ratio is a commonly used metric calculated as the ratio between a datacenter's total power consumption and power used by the IT equipment within the center. Typical datacenters have PUEs of 1.7 to 2.0, well-managed datacenters typically have PUEs of 1.4 to 1.6, and aggressively managed operations strive to achieve lower ratios, with the ultimate goal of reaching 1.0, a completely lossless and energy-efficient datacenter.
The joint design study comes as power consumption due to IT equipment and datacenters continues to grow at a rapid pace. In a 2007 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Congress on datacenter efficiency, it was estimated that power consumption was about 61 billion kilowatt hours (kW-h) in 2006, or 1.5 percent of total U.S.
electricity consumption. This consumption is expected to double by 2011. Power and cooling costs continue to be a growing percentage of the overall costs of IT for all organizations, including academic institutions.
SDSC and UC San Diego have been leaders in promoting energy-efficient and sustainability practices throughout the campus, from building design and transportation alternatives to conservation and recycling.
UC San Diego is one of the leading universities investigating energy efficiency in information technology and datacenters, and is the only university member of Green Grid, an international consortium dedicated to reducing energy usage at datacenters.
The CCSIP is a catalyst for collaborative Research, Development, and Delivery (RD&D) between California and Canada, stimulating the development of new models of collaboration that leverage key research capabilities, address common priorities, accelerate the delivery of research results, launch revolutionary RD&D projects that aim to bring new products and services to market, and deliver economic and social benefits to citizens in both jurisdictions. CCSIP funding for the project was awarded as one of 15 bilateral projects selected in the CCSIP's first Call for Proposals (CFP) in January 2010.
Additional support for the project was received from CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network. The SDSC/McGill University grant is part of CANARIE's C$2.4 million funding plan for four ground-breaking IT projects aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector, and measuring the impact of ICT and cyberinfrastructure on university electric consumption. "Canada is being very aggressive in developing new green IT strategies for computing and communications that mesh well with long standing traditions of environmental responsibility and technological development," said Jorge Vinals, director of CLUMEQ.
As an Organized Research Unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC is a founding member of TeraGrid, the nation's largest open-access scientific discovery infrastructure.
CLUMEQ (Consortium Laval, Universit du Qubec, McGill and Eastern
Quebec) is a research consortium for high performance computing (HPC) composed of McGill University, Universit Laval, and the Universit du Qubec. CLUMEQ's mission is to provide world class HPC infrastructures to its member institutions, for the advancement of knowledge in all areas of research, and to provide support and training to researchers in order to help them exploit these infrastructures efficiently. CLUMEQ is part of the Compute Canada national HPC platform that coordinates the seven regional consortia across Canada. Through Compute Canada, all Canadian researchers can obtain access to CLUMEQ infrastructures.
UC San Diego: http://www.ucsd.edu/
McGill University: http://www.mcgill.ca/
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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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