Monday, May 30, 2011

Energy Links and The Heartland GreenUp

As I prepare to attend The Heartland GreenUp this Thursday I have read a number of articles around power lately that I thought were interesting.

Tech Companies becoming Power Companies?
Last week Fast Company had a nice article titled The Race for the Most Efficient Server is Turning Tech Companies Into Power Companies. The first item they bring up is that the big 'information factories' like Google, FaceBook, Amazon and Apple will be storing a few zettabytes here and there of our data, and as such have a rather voracious appetite for power. With the power consumption for the Apple data center in Maiden North Carolina guestimated to be 100 megawatts it is no doubt that their supplier, Duke Energy will be scrutinized for how that power is being generated. CO2K anyone?

Their second item, server efficiency is no small thing either: it is something that all of the manufacturers and chip producers have been doing their best to tout. SeaMicro CEO Andrew Feldman was interviewed by Robert Scoble recently and explains their amazing technology that can deliver 512 servers in 1/4 the space, for 1/4 the power utilization of a typical server.

New IEA Publication
Osha Gray Davidson on Forbes pointed out that the International Energy Agency published a 90-page book - Climate and Electricity Annual 2011. It seems like the data center industry is always cited for how much energy they are using - but look at electrical generation in general and how, for example it emitted 11 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2008. The report presents the challenge for decarbonisation, but also says that despite actions to reduce CO2 emissions and "despite very rapid growth in renewable energy generation, significant technology and policy challenges remain if this unprecedented essential transition is to be achieved."

On the political front there was some interesting commentary on H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act, around slowing the military's march to clean energy. SmartGrid News reported on the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act (e-Know) bill that would give customers the option of getting real-time electricity use information, as well as giving them the right to authorize access to their usage data to companies that provide home energy efficiency products. I just happened to run across a HP article around the same time that talked about their Home Energy Manager software that looks pretty impressive.

IBM - the keynote at Heartland GreenUp, has a ton of initiatives and projects surrounding the smartgrid and the Smarter Planet effort. A branch off of that I have been reading lately is the site: Generating Insights - Accelerating into a new era in energy.

Speaking of digital information about our energy - It looks like a South Carolina nuclear plant reactor will be the first in the U.S. to go digital. Managed by Duke Energy, they said they "made sure its engineers can manually take over all digital processes in case there are any problems."

Finally -- I am a sucker for infographics. The Infrarati blog had a nice one recently to create awareness about the energy consumption behind all of these digital services and clouds we use.

I would highly recommend attending the Heartland GreenUp. If you are not able to attend in person (June 2nd in Des Moines) they have a virtual world setup to attend the conference online!

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