Silicon Valley is increasingly concerned these days about having a reliable, stable and secure source of energy — the cleaner the better. Earlier this year, for example, there was talk of a bunch of companies getting together to consider building their own clean coal plant just for their own use. I’ve tried to get an update on that, but no luck.
Also on the mind of many California tech companies is high energy costs as they relate to their data centers. Back in June, the California Energy Commission announced a demonstration project with some Silicon Valley companies aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of their computer data centers. Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Intel and Cisco are among the big-name companies participating in the project.
“Data centers — the backbone of the Information Age — provide data storage for Web sites and data bases in support of virtually every larger-sized private corporation and institution,” the commission said. “These centers can use 100 times more electricity than a typical office building on a square foot basis — putting a strain on the electric grid, especially in the summer months.” Researcher hope to demonstrate that data center equipment can operate more efficiently when the centers themselves use a DC power source. “Companies can reduce the cost of operating data centers by billions of dollars while improving reliability and lengthening server life. Other benefits include reduced building cooling needs… and reduced heat-related failures.”
The Lawrence Berkeley National Labratory estimates that 3 per cent of U.S. electricity is consumed by the computers, servers and routers that form the foundation of the Internet. Of this, they figure about .12 per cent (500 megawatts, roughly) is used to power data centers. For more information about this project, click here.
I’ve been seeing more and more of these initiatives ever since Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems and Google started talking out about the need to focus on computer server energy-efficiency, and how energy consumption needs to be figured into total-cost-of-ownership when large corporations and government departments calculate these technology purchases. It’s good to see more dialogue and research emerging.