Tag: environment

With great power comes great responsibility – or, Cloud companies need to get on-board

Spiderman
With great power comes great responsibility

This great quote from the movie Spider-Man, is just as true for technology, as it is for superheroes.

Technology has made possible tremendous changes in our quality of life in the last couple of decades. Everything from surgery to transportation, education to construction, space exploration and most other fields of human endeavour now depend heavily on IT. However, these great advances in our knowledge and abilities comes at a cost.

Information Technology’s carbon footprint, estimated by Gartner to be 2% of global carbon emissions in 2007, is rapidly increasing and by some estimates may even double by 2020. This is obviously an unsustainable situation. ICT, which can help so many organisations to reduce their carbon footprint, should itself be an shining example of low emissions.

To this end, the EU commission’s new ICT Footprint initiative is to be lauded. The announcement of the project on EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes blog gave the following details of the initiative:

This is why the European Commission has persuaded three leading standards development organisations and a prominent greenhouse gas accounting initiative to pool their measurement efforts. Under our new initiative these organisations will examine the whole sector, the whole lifecycle and the scalability of these methods.

That means measuring everything from the supply of raw materials to their recycling. Measuring not only what it takes to make products like a laptop, but also the impact of services like hosting data in the cloud. It means that in the near future we will be able to measure the ICT environmental footprint of whole cities or countries, including the positive environmental effects that ICT enables.

Several major ICT companies and organisations from Europe, Asia and the US are now trialling such measurement solutions. And from this month onwards, nearly 30 players have joined the European Commission to broaden and speed up the effort. We call on more and more such players to get involved.

It is tremendous to see this kind of global leadership from the EU. While this only applies to the EU, it does require the development of measurement and reporting systems for whole IT ecosystems and that can only be a good thing. In time, the hope would be that these systems are used well beyond the EU and by all IT providers…

Grid Watch: smartgrids meet smartcomms

New Meter

We have pointed to the ongoing convergence of wireless communications and smart grids before, for example in this video about Tropos Networks and in Tom’s stump pitch on sustainability and mobility, but some news from this week throws the trend into stark relief.

Carbon Trust investments, the VC arm of a non-profit organisation working to lower the UK’s carbon emissions just announced it is to invest in a network management company called Arieso.

Why would Carbon Trust do that? After all, what does mobile network optimisation have to do with energy management? According to the newenergyworldnetwork story:

Rachael Nutter of CT Investment Partners said, ‘Energy consumption in mobile phone base stations is a significant proportion of the opex of mobile operators, as high as 50 per cent in the most extreme cases.

That’s the thing about sustainability – it doesn’t need to be seen as a cost center… rather it can, and should be, part of optimisation activities. Lower carbon, lower energy, cheaper mobile roll-outs. What’s not to like?

If you’ve been following GreenMonk for a while you should know we’re wedded to bottom up sustainability approaches – “from the roots up” as we call it, which is one reason we’ve sponsored, and contributed to the awesome UK HomeCamp community, founded by Chris Dalby, who now works at UK smartmeter firm Current Cost. Seems things are moving along there too.

One of the key players attempting to drive home automation as an activity for “civilians” is ZigBee. It just started working with GreenPeak, which specialises in ultra low power mobile silicon chips, designed to be used in battery-free devices. [See a theme emerging? ;-) ] No batteries isn’t just a lower carbon play though- it also means less heavy metals and toxic chemicals. What’s the news? GreenPeak is now Zigbee compliant.

Finally some smart grid news.

Swiss smart meter player just took $165m in new funding.

Could be smart timing.

The Climate Group, sponsored by GE, Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and others  just called on Barack Obama to adopt a goal of providing every household with real time information about their electricity use.

Meanwhile last week Microsoft hohm and Ford announced they are working together on home energy to Electric Vehicle management and integration, to help people that own these EVs charge them cost effectively. Its worth pointing to one of my favourite GreenMonk interviews in that light- we talk to Greg Frenette of Ford about EV smart grid convergence.

It really is time to run the first HomeCamp US!

Ironically enough, when I searched for a creativecommons attribution only shot of a smartmeter i found one from my colleague Michael Coté in Austin. His utility called it a smartmeter, but unless he  has access to the data generated I don’t see how it deserves the name. But that’s a subject for a different blog, and indeed a line of Greenmonk research.

The really keen eyed among you may have noticed how many of the links above come from newnet news. No accident. I love the feed. Its like a shot of good news tequila every morning – something to warm your spirits.

by-sa