Green data center
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.
Green ICT is concerned with all resources consumed in creating e-gear and operating ICT infrastructures. Significant amounts of water are used in everything from chip fabrication to PC manufacture to data center operation. This makes ICT vulnerable to droughts and other water constraints.
Handling our gear's heat has always been an issue for installations large and small. ICT equipment typical took 1x-2x again more energy to remove its heat as it took to power it in the first place (PUE of 2.0+), driving both energy costs and carbon footprints. Early efforts focused on the two obvious tactics: make both the gear and the air conditioning more efficient. We now see these augmented by innovative new approaches to the problem.
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.
I've been following Verne Global's rollout of a "carbon neutral data centre campus" in Iceland for a couple of years. The company called my attention earlier this year to a series of customer announcements that reveal the variety of reasons users do business with a green ICT facility. Now, a survey sheds more light on the value of green.
Evidence of Green ICT on the information and telecommunications industries is everywhere. Gear is becoming more energy efficient, renewable energy is increasingly in favor, and product content and lifecycles are starting to be scrutinized. So what defines "eco" gear in 2012?
Apple's 2012 Facilities Report provided detail on on the sustainability features, ranging from 'free air' cooling to real-time power monitoring, in Apple's Maiden (NC-USA) data center. A more recent report commits to 100% renewable energy.
A Pike Research report says that the trend to greener data centers will yield a significant GHG slowdown as well as drive a substantial market opportunity. Here are some of the top-line numbers from Pike.
Facebook mentions in passing that its highly efficient Prineville data center uses "Ethernet-powered LED lighting [to] reduce the total energy required to run the facility." Additional information about what exactly Facebook has done is hard to fine. What is Ethernet-powered LED lighting?