Green data center
What is a battery? A device to store energy and convert it to electricity on demand? This is an important question as ICT facilities and infrastructure elements increasingly rely on sophisticated battery-based systems such as UPS. Potentially greener alternatives are emerging to chemical batteries, with flywheels appearing to have the most momentum for ITC facilities going into 2013.
Let's start by reviewing the role energy storage devices play in ICT. A 2011 APC white paper lists three applications:
Verne Global continues to publish useful information about why customers value green data centers. Automobile manufacturer BMW is the latest customer profiled by the company.
Microsoft has announced plans to spend $5.5 million to build a zero-carbon data center pilot project in Wyoming. A source of very low carbon electricity is key to such projects. Microsoft's power generation fuel? Municipal sewage!
Google offers frequent updates on its Green ICT progress. Here is the most recent, along with past updates.
Photos, inside and out, of Google's data centers. Note that most locations include a reference to some green initiative.
This has not been detailed on Google's useful blog, but Grist reports that "Google’s new $700 million data centers in Taiwan will make ice at night, when electricity is significantly cheaper, and use it to cool the buildings during the day."
Google announced in January 2012, "All of our U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001…certification. We’re the first major Internet services company to gain external certification for those high standards at all of our U.S. data centers." Here are some of the specifics.
We're most of the way through 2012 and Green ICT has been a topic of conversation for years. Best practices have been developed, standards put into place, conferences held monthly around the world. So why do recent surveys of ICT operators suggest that few are paying attention to the full suite of Green ICT possibilities?
PUE - Power Utilization Effectiveness - is a common measure of energy efficiency for ICT facilities. We have often cited it in our articles, but we are mindful that efficiency does not necessarily lead to sustainability. Here are some areas where PUE can fall short.
Belching diesel equipment is not what one imagines when visualizing the Internet and mobile communications. It turns out they play a significant role in ICT's consumption of fossil fuels and emission of GHG.
The Bloom Energy Server is a "distributed power generator" that uses fuel cells to convert air and natural gas into electricity. We wrote in 2010 that the 'Bloom Boxes' are "already being used by ICT companies, but not for for mission-critical ICT applications." Now we can report that they are used for applications ranging from television to telecom. Apple and eBay appear to be the most recent ICT customers.
Vertatique posts have covered the attraction of locations that offer renewable energy, typically a combination of hydroelectric power and free air cooling from a temperate/cold climate. But about data centers in sunny climates? The question provided a good opportunity to check in on solar photovoltaic electricity (solar PV) back in 2009.
We're increasingly seeing data centers promote, and customers respond to, Green ICT features. Here are some customer perspectives and the results of a industry survey that reveals geographical differences.