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
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The next big challenge in computing and networking: increasing on demand electrical consumption
[There is an excellent article in this week’s Economist on the difficulties Germany electrical grid and power plant operators are facing as the amount of renewable power on the grid approaches 20%.
The biggest challenge facing these companies is how to provide standby power on cloudy days with no wind or alternatively, how to distribute the surplus power that is dumped on the grid on sunny Sundays or in the middle of the night. The economics of building gas stand-by power plants to sit idle most of year, in anticipation of cloudy, windless days does not make sense, and this does not address the problem of what to do with surplus renewable power. The alternative solution is to build massive pan-national electrical grids to distribute renewable energy from the windy north coast of Denmark and Germany balanced with similar large distribution grids from the sunny Mediterranean. These electrical grids will be massive multi-billion dollar investments and will likely run into strong opposition from those who don’t want this ugly infrastructure running through their backyards. Energy storage is also another potential solution for surplus power, but these technologies are still in their infancy.
Rather than building hundred million gas plants to sit idle most of the year, or multi-billion dollar electrical grids or storage systems, a more elegant solution is to adjust the demand supply of power equation. Demand-response systems in industry have been around for a long time for reducing consumption on days of high power load, but as a far I know, no one has looked at building “consumption-response” systems to consume surplus power. In either case, neither technology has yet to be deployed in any significant way in the ICT community. Considering the fact that data centers consume around 2% of electricity , that ICT in general represents 6-10% of all electrical consumption, and that in many western homes aggregate ICT electrical consumption exceeds that of traditional appliances, ICT could perhaps play a significant role in both the demand and consumption of electrical power.
I have long argued that there is a potential of strong symbiotic relationship between the growth of clean, renewable electrical energy sources and the future of broadband, Internet, cyber-infrastructure (eInfrastructrue) and ICT in general. Through the Internet, computing and network data loads can be rapidly shifted to different places around the world and as such rapidly change the power profile at different sites via fiber networks rather than shifting power across ugly, expensive transmission lines. The Greenstar project is an early example of this type of architecture.
It has long been recognized that ICT and Internet could be used to reduce energy consumption through smart metering, intelligent appliances, etc. But ICT and Internet can also be used to increase power consumption when required, to do useful work when there is surplus power on the grid from renewable energy sources. For example, it may be cheaper for a power utility to operate a data center in stand-by mode to use surplus power rather than trying to export or dump the power onto the national grids. The availability of the data center VMs could be quickly advertised or brokered to the global network community at a low cost. Chargers for computers, tablets, etc could be signaled to operate in fast re-charge mode and also do archiving or backup of files. Sensor and wireless networks could be configured to start transmitting stored data during periods of surplus power, and so on.
One company that is ideally positioned to take advantage of this intersection of electrical consumption and Internet is Google. Google operates large wind and solar power facilities and are a major seller of renewable power into the US electrical grid. At the same time they operate a large distributed cloud as well as deploying an innovative fiber to the home project in Kansas City. I don’t know if they have yet squared the circle on linking these initiatives together, but for example, a major source of revenue for the Google Fiber project may be the local power utility. Rather than buying expensive peak power, or building standby gas power generators, installing on demand consumption and response systems as part of the fiber project may pay for the entire deployment itself. While fiber is not necessary for on demand response-consumption systems (simple low bandwidth ZigBee is just as effective) the cachet of Gigabit to the home may persuade customers who are concerned about privacy, security and external agencies controlling their appliances and computing equipment. Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, given their national broadband initiatives may also be well positioned to make this strong linkage between electrical power and Internet – BSA]
Germany’s energy transformation --Energiewende
German plans to cut carbon emissions with renewable energy are ambitious, but they are also riskyhttp://www.economist.com/node/21559667
R&E Network and Green Internet Consultant.
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