Energy Internet and eVehicles 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 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:
Free High Speed Internet to the Home: http://goo.gl/wGjVG
High level architecture of Building Zero Carbon Networks: http://goo.gl/juWdH
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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.
Friday, August 20, 2010
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.
Monday, August 9, 2010
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.
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.
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
Canadian researchers hope to green the web and make Canada the world's web server http://bit.ly/9qIWIX
“Interconnected data centers powered by wind, sun, could drastically reduce IT carbon footprints…”
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