March 15, 2010
By Ed Lucente
Consider these trends:
- Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are deploying data centers in the Columbia River Basin of Washington State in order to draw on renewable hydro-power
- The U.S. government is spending $4 billion from its economic-stimulus package on smart grid initiatives
- Peak demand needs have exceeded current capacity (while electricity costs have skyrocketed), and the problem is expected to worsen in the U.S.
- According to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation around the world will nearly double from about 17.3 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2005 to 33.3 trillion kWh in 2030. In the case of the U.S., its power grid simply will not be able to keep up with the growth and demand for additional power using conventional means
- CANARIE, the Ottawa-based agency that supervises standards for the Canadian Internet backbone, initiated a $3 million RFP, called the Green IT Pilot Program, to encourage zero-carbon data center deployments in Canada by 2011
- In the U.S., for the first time ever, new power capacity brought online from renewable energy sources in 2008 was greater than half — reaching 60% — thanks to solar, wind, hydro-dam, and geothermal. As recently as 2005, new renewable energy sources accounted for only 15 percent of marginal capacity
- In the U.S. over the last five years, no marginal power capacity has been added with nuclear plants due to prohibitive regulations and a general public opinion of “not in my backyard” — a trend likely to continue
- In the U.S., it’s estimated that reduction in peak demand by a mere 5% would yield savings of about $66 billion over 20 years — to say nothing of the resulting reduction in green house gas emissions that would accompany a 5% peak demand reduction
So what does all this mean for IT and Facilities professionals?
Green IT practices are more than just designing greener data centers and installing the most energy efficient IT equipment. IT and Facilities professionals need to think about powering data centers with renewable energy sources such as windmill farms, hydro-dams, geothermal, or solar-power sources.
So it’s no longer enough, nor cost-competitive, to focus solely on the energy efficiency of new IT gear.
Finally, energy rebates offered by utilities for green data centers will be maximized when a more holistic approach is taken that considers IT equipment, facilities, and the actual sources of power.