Sunday, May 23, 2010

Site Selection and Energy 2010

I always hate going too far into smart grid, alternative energy or greentech territory on this, a data center blog, but..... with data centers consuming as much as they do, I have to imagine it is on the mind of many of those interested in data centers.

A short while back released The Site Selection Energy Report and after glancing through it, I filled a dozen or so Firefox tabs worth of related stories and interesting tidbits. The first section covers the best places for renewable energy power plants and shows why going with the greenfield option isn't necessarily the greenest thing to do.

The article discusses part of the EPA's program for RE-Powering America's Land where the DoE and NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) did a feasibility study of 12 sites in the U.S. where renewable energy production (wind, solar or small hydro) might take place on Superfund, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites. I am also a Google Earth fanatic, so the renewable energy interactive mapping tool on the EPA's site was really cool. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took some ARRA money to take a second look at cutting some of the red tape and expense for developers using BLM land. In 2008 $5.5 billion was paid to Federal and State governments for Federal onshore energy leasing and production.

In the Sustainable Design section of the report Dell is highlighted -- for completing their 516 panel solar installation in October 2009, dubbed "Solar Grove". The 130 kW array at Round Rock Texas headquarters will help them in avoiding approximately 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Envision Solar created tree canopy's in Dell's parking lots and to date has installed more than 9 MW of solar arrays for commercial, residential and public entities worldwide.

In the Energy Matters section, they discuss a program backed by European Union funding through the Welsh Assembly Government:

"The Low Carbon Research Institute energy program led by the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, is building with Corus Colors a Sustainable Building Envelope Center in order to showcase and test sustainable building products."

Just prior to the June 9-11 Intersolar Conference in Munich, there will be a session on doing solar business in the UK That session will discuss what to do now that the feed-in-tarrif was enacted to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources.

Finally, the report covers Saul Griffith, an inventory who helped found Makani (wind,breeze), a company that Google invested $15 million in. Makani plans to skip the towers and oversized turbines and just use kites and smaller turbines to generate power.

Taking a larger step back to view the bigger picture, Yale's Environment360 site has an interesting article by NewYorker author Elizabeth Kolbert, who disucsses the Anthropocene Debate
"As epochs go, the Holocene is barely out of diapers; its immediate predecessor, the Pleistocene, lasted more than two million years, while many earlier epochs, like the Eocene, went on for more than 20 million years. Still, the Holocene may be done for. People have become such a driving force on the planet that many geologists argue a new epoch — informally dubbed the Anthropocene — has begun."

Apparently a group of geologists listed more than a half dozen human-driven processes that are likely to leave a lasting mark on the planet. I didn't read the entire report, but luckily data centers were not listed as an anthroprocenal cause (hey, that was a fun word to make up).

Forrester's Doug Washburn has a part one of his series on The Evolution of Green IT. In short Doug walks through the business case justification for Green IT. Doug also tweeted an interesting article at on Technology takes a lead in cutting carbon.

The Ethiopian Review reports on global finance giant Deutsche Bank (DB) and their best practices for environmental sustainability. Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors operates the real-time Carbon Counter in Madison Square Garden, a 69 foot billboard that displays a running total of long-lived greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. DB hopes to change the way data centers are thought of and extend their lifetime as dynamic eco-systems where innovations increase efficiency and they challenge themselves to conserve IT resources where practical.

"We calculate IT eco-efficiency using three percentages. Data center infrastructure efficiency tells you what percentage of the energy consumed in a data center actually gets to the hardware. Hardware power relative efficiency tells you how much computing capability you are getting from each watt relative to best-in-class hardware; we had to develop our own metric here based on external benchmarks and our selection of a reference server to make a notional 100 percent reference point. And, of course, hardware utilization efficiency gets you more useful work from the available compute cycles. The nice thing is that you can multiply these three percentages to arrive at an overall energy efficiency metric for each facility."

CO2K in motion? you bet.

Finally, a SeekingAlpha article really caught my attention on Why Google Could Crush the Coal ETF. The article discusses how data centers are targeted because they are the lifeline of the Internet and how many cloud providers are in fact located in areas where electricity is generated primarily at coal-fired power plants. In January this year Google formed a new subsidiary - Google Energy SeekingAlpha contrasts two funds, the Market Vectors-Coal ETF (NYSE: KOL) and First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy ETF (NYSE: FAN).

Interesting times we live in -- the anthropocene era, CO2K, and methane generated energy for the data center!

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