Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coal powered Internet causing climate change

The report "Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change" (Greenpeace, 30 March 2010) warns that the growth of Internet use could cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately the case in the report is undermined by the way the report is distributed: as a very poorly formatted, inefficient PDF document. The report is a 24 page 7 Mbyte PDF document. The document is therefore about 10 times larger than it need be and will be generating 10 times as much greenhouse gas emissions as a properly designed document would.

While Greenpeace make a good argument about powering data centres from renewable energy, a far greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved much more quickly and cheaply by making the applications running in those data centres more efficient. Greenpeace might like to lead by example, and commit to efficient online documents.
The announcement of Apple’s iPad has been much anticipated by a world with an ever-increasing appetite for mobile computing devices as a way to connect, interact, learn and work. As rumours circulated – first about its existence and then about its capabilities - the iPad received more media attention than any other gadget in recent memory. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs finally showcased his company’s latest creation before a rapt audience in San Francisco. From their smart phones and netbooks, the crowd feverishly blogged and tweeted real time updates out to a curious world.

Whether you actually want an iPad or not, there is no doubt that it is a harbinger of things to come. The iPad relies upon cloud-based computing to stream video,
download music and books, and fetch email. Already, millions access the ‘cloud’ to make use of online social networks, watch streaming video, check email and create documents, and store thousands of digital photos online on popular web-hosted sites like Flickr and Picasa.

The term cloud, or cloud computing, used as a metaphor for the internet, is based on an infrastructure and business model whereby - rather than being stored on your own device - data, entertainment, news and other products and services are delivered to your device, in real time, from the internet. The creation of the cloud has been a boon both to the companies hosting it and to consumers who now need nothing but a personal computer and internet access to fulfill most of their computing needs.

Google is perhaps the most famous cloud-based company to demonstrate the potential of a cloud platform to drive a hugely successful business model. All of Google’s signature products - Gmail, Google Documents and Google Earth - are delivered from the cloud.

Its ambitious project to create a digital library will be entirely hosted by servers storing most of the world’s published work, all in digitised form.

The cloud is growing at a time when climate change and reducing emissions from energy use is of paramount concern.With the growth of the cloud, however, comes an increasing demand for energy.

For all of this content to be delivered to us in real time, virtual mountains of video, pictures and other data must be stored somewhere and be available for almost instantaneous access. That ‘somewhere’ is data
centres - massive storage facilities that consume incredible amounts of energy.

But decisions about how the cloud will be built out are being made by business leaders primarily concerned with quarterly profit statements and earnings for shareholders.

Facebook vs. Yahoo

For example, in January 2010, Facebook commissioned a new data centre in Oregon and committed to a power service provider agreement with PacificCorp, a utility that gets the majority of its energy from coal-fired power stations, the United States’ largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Effectively becoming an industrial-scale consumer of electricity, Facebook now faces the same choices and challenges that other large ‘cloud-computing’ companies have in building their data centres.With a premium being placed on access to the cheapest electricity available on the grid. In many countries, this means dirty coal.

All the same, other companies have made better decisions for siting some of their data centres. Yahoo!, for instance, chose to build a data centre outside Buffalo, New York, that is powered by energy from a hydroelectric power plant - dramatically decreasing its carbon footprint. Google Energy, a subsidiary of cloud leader Google, applied and was recently approved as a regulated wholesale buyer and seller of electricity in the United States, giving it greater flexibility as to where it buys its electricity to power its data centres.

Brown cloud or green cloud?

Ultimately, if cloud providers want to provide a truly green and renewable cloud, they must use their power and influence to not only drive investments near renewable energy sources, but also become involved in setting the policies that will drive rapid deployment of renewable electricity generation economy-wide, and place greater R&D into storage devices that will deliver electricity from renewable sources 24/7. (See page 11 for prescriptive policy recommendations for IT companies.)

If we hope to phase out dirty sources of energy to address climate change, then - given the massive amounts of electricity needed in order to run computers, provide backup power and coordinate related cooling equipment that even energy-efficient data centres consume - the last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power. The potential of ICT technologies and cloud computing to drive low-carbon economic growth underscore the importance of building cloud infrastructure in places powered by clean renewable energy.

Companies like Facebook, Google, and other large players in the cloud computing market must advocate for policy change at the local, national and international levels to ensure that, as their appetite for energy increases, so does the supply of renewable energy.

I have always believed that IT is the engine of an efficient economy; it also can drive a greener one
Michael Dell, Forbes magazine

In 2008, The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) issued SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age.i The study highlighted the significant and rapidly growing footprint of the ICT industry and predicted that because of the rapid economic expansion in places like India and China, among other causes, demand for ICT services will quadruple by 2020.

SMART 2020 also found that:
  • PC ownership will quadruple between 2007 and 2020 to 4 billion devices, and emissions will double over the same period, with laptops overtaking desktops as the main source of global ICT emissions (22%).
  • Mobile phone ownership will almost double to nearly 5 billion accounts by 2020, but emissions will only grow by 4%. Broadband uptake will treble to almost 900 million accounts over the same period, with emissions doubling over the entire telecoms infrastructure.
The Smart 2020 study also made a compelling case for ICT’s significant potential to deliver climate and energy solutions, estimating that ICT technologies could cut 7.8 GtCO2 of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, a 15%reduction over business-as-usual projections. The study posits that innovations from the ICT sector - when combined with increased use of renewable energy - can put the world on a more sustainable path and help keep global temperature increase below the 2°C threshold scientists say is needed to hold off the worst effects of climate change.

table ommitted

How big is the carbon footprint of the Information Technology and Communication sector?

MtCO2e =Metric Tonne Carbon Dioxide Equivalent
GtCO2e = Gigatonne Carbon Dioxide Equivalent
i Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)(2008). SMART
2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age. Available at

2010 has been touted by many in the ICT sector as the ‘Year of the Cloud’. While this is likely a prediction that will be repeated in subsequent years, the arrival of the iPad and growth in netbooks and other tablet computers, the launch of Microsoft’s Azure cloud services for business, and the launch of the Google phone and the proliferation of mobile cloud applications are compelling signs of a movement
towards cloud-based computing within the business sector and public consciousness in a way never seen before.

3 key trends in cloud-based computing
• Continued significant expansion of cloud-based computing despite economic downturn
• Greater attention and growth in deployment of energy-efficient data centres design
• Increased size and scale of data centres being built by major brands

Key questions for cloud-based computing data centre investment
• How big is the cloud in electricity consumption and GHG emissions and how big will it become?
• Where will the cloud be built and what sources of energy will be powering it?
• How may large data centres impact the surrounding load centre’s demand for fossil fuels?
• To what extent will efficiency and design improvements reduce the rate of growth?
table omitted

How much electricity or associated greenhouse gas pollution is currently produced or will be generated to power a much bigger cloud in 10 years? The answer is far from clear, given the rapid growth, and that many major cloud brands refuse to disclose their energy footprint.

The Smart 2020 analysis forecast that the global carbon footprint of the main components of cloud-based computing - data centres and the telecommunications network - would see their emissions grow, on average, 7%and 5%respectively each year between 2002-2020.
Underlying this analysis is the number of data centre servers growing on average 9%each year during this period.

Using the global analysis and forecast of the overall ICT emissions footprint in the Smart 2020 Report as a foundation, the following reports seeks to shine a fresh light on the electricity demand of the global cloud, highlighting the scale of the potential demand and importance of where and what sources of electricity are being used to power Facebook, Gmail, and other cloud-based computing platforms.

The first of the two adjustments were made to the analysis used in the Smart 2020 Report to disaggregate the projections for growth in the main components of cloud based computing, and place in context of electricity demand and renewable energy supply. The third adjustment incorporates some bottom up analysis of energy demand from data centres in the US, and the scale impact on the size of the overall electricity demand if more accurate estimation of the energy demand and GHG emissions associated with large data centres.To make the data of the report more accessible as an instrument to evaluate the projected impact of the cloud on electricity demand and their relationship to energy policies, the Smart 2020 analysis has been deaggregated to show overall electricity consumption as outlined below.

table omitted

The results available from the Smart 2020 Report are shown as tones of carbon emitted and not in energy units (e.g. electricity consumed kWh). The emission factors used come from McKinsey and Vanttefall Cost Curve, which are not disclosed in the report.

Using a publicly-known global factor for the global carbon intensity of electricity production,WRI’s CAITi, the equivalent electricity consumption is derived as shown in Table 2.

table omitted

Smart 2020 Adjustment #3:
Top-down vs. bottom-up adjustment for data
centre energy consumption
While the Smart 2020 report did a very credible top-down analysis of global data centre consumption, it is important to compare this with a bottom-up approach. Based on the 2007 bottom-up analysis conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the estimated electricity consumption of US data centres is 1.7 times larger than the top-down analysis by the Smart 2020 report estimated for the US and Canada combined. If this factor is to be applied to the global electricity consumption in Table 2, the data centres portion would go from the 194.2 to 330 billion kWh and, as consequence, the total cloud energy consumption (data centres plus telecommunications) would be 622.6 billion kWh -; a number that is 1.3 times larger than reported under the Smart 2020 report.

table omitted

Adjustment #3
Adjustment #1--reduction of scope of telecoms network reporting
Smart 2020 Adjustment #1:
Scope of Telecoms network reporting
The Smart 2020 Report provides carbon footprint figures in MtCO2e as a combination of two sources of emissions: indirect emissions from electricity use (scope 2) and indirect emissions from upstream
production (scope 3), or embodied carbon. To show electricity or energy use emissions separately, a correction factor [Scope 2/ (Scope 2+3)] will be applied as shown in the table for adjustment #1. This correction factor for Scope 2 is derived from the information provided on global internet footprint in the Smart 2020 Report, which includes PCs in addition to telecoms and data centres.

Mobile phones accounted for 43%of the carbon footprint of Telecoms. However, to keep the analysis focused on the infrastructure of the cloud and related energy consumption, the energy footprint of mobile phones will be subtracted, as PCs (desktops and laptops) are not counted in this analysis, phones
will be also subtracted. The 270 MtCO2e without mobile phones translates into 154 MTCO2 globally.

table omitted

Projected regional growth of data centres

Unless cloud data centres are strategically placed to utilise or be co-developed with renewable sources of electricity, the data centre operators are stuck with the same problem everybody has, and having to accept the mix of clean and dirty energy sources that the electric utilities rely upon to feed the grid.

Growth of energy-efficient data centers
More cloud-computing companies are pursuing design and siting strategies that can reduce the energy consumption of their data centres, primarily as a cost containment measure. For most companies, the environmental benefits of green data design are
generally of secondary concern.

Facebook’s decision to build its own highly-efficient data centre in Oregon that will be substantially powered by coal-fired electricity clearly underscores the relative priority for many cloud companies. Increasing
Key trends that will impact the environmental footprint of the cloud the energy efficiency of its servers and reducing the energy footprint of the infrastructure of data centres are clearly to be commended, but
efficiency by itself is not green if you are simply working to maximise output from the cheapest and dirtiest energy source available. The US EPA will soon be expanding its EnergyStar rating system to apply to data centres, but similarly does not factor in the fuel source being used to power the data centre in its rating criteria. Unfortunately, as our collective demand for computing resources increases, even the most
efficiently built data centres with the highest utilisation rates serve only to mitigate, rather than eliminate, harmful emissions.
table omitted

Yahoo! Data Center (Lockport, NY)
Yahoo! is currently building a $150 million US dollar data centre near Buffalo, New York, which will be completed in May 2010. The site was chosen in part due to the low cooling costs expected in the region and the ability to use fresh air cooling, as well as the ready access to lowcarbon and low-cost hydro power. The New York Power Authority has approved 10 megawatts of low-cost hydro power for a first phase of construction for a Yahoo! facility. A second phase, expected in the spring of 2012, would receive an additional five megawatts of power.

Apple Computer (North Carolina, US)
Last year, Apple began construction on a $1 billion US dollar data centre in western North Carolina, close to where Google also cited its recent data centre investment. North Carolina’s electricity production is
high. Coal-fired power plants account for about 60%of the State’s electricity generation, while the carbon intensity of the electricity generation in 2005 was 561.4 gCO2e/kWh.

Table omitted

Comparison of significant cloud data centres ...

From: "Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change", Greenpeace, 30 March 2010

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Personal Energy Meter

Simon Hay has proposed "A Global Personal Energy Meter" at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. The idea is that your mobile phone would track where you are and what you are doing, calculating how much energy you are using, so you can make decisions to use less (perhaps receiving some incentives to do so). This appears to be a logical extension of the tracking devices which the Cambridge Computer Lab has been experimenting with for decades (I wore one of the devices when I visited Andy Hopper in Cambridge in 1996).

As well as the formal paper there is a sixteen slide show.This is an idea worth exploring. There are obvious problems with privacy, as there were with the previous computer labs tracking devices. However, as anyone who has read the draft energy audit standards knows, the state of the art in energy measurement for carbon auditing is not very advanced. Therefore the information needed from a personal tracking device need not be very precise. Also gaps in measurements can be tolerated far more than with a security tracking badge.
Abstract. Every day each of us consumes a significant amount of energy,
both directly through transportation, heating and use of appliances,
and indirectly from our needs for the production of food, manufacture
of goods and provision of services. I envisage a personal energy meter
which can record and apportion an individual’s energy usage in order
to provide baseline information and incentives for reducing the environmental
impact of our lives. Contextual information will be crucial for
apportioning the use and energy costs of shared resources. In order to
obtain this it will be necessary to develop low cost, low infrastructure
location systems that can be deployed on a truly global scale. ...

From: A Global Personal Energy Meter, Simon Hay, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, 2009.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hybrid Trucks for Local Council

Leichhardt Council in Sydney has purchased a Hino Hybrid Truck fromToyota's truck subsidary, which uses similar techology to Toyota's Prius hybrid car. In stop-start traffic, such a truck uses 20 l/100km, which is a considerable saving. Adapting this technology for trucks has taken a long time. The decision to purchase the truck was made in 2004 (Motion C465/04 by PARKER/HAMILTON, MINUTES of ORDINARY MEETING of Leichhardt Municipal Council , 23 November 2004), but it has taken until 2009 for the vehicles to be readily avialable.

In his 3 December Mayoral Column ("New Hybrid Truck Helps Cut CO2 Emissions in Leichhard"on page 12 of the Inner West Courier) , Mayor of Leichhardt, Counsellor Jamie Parker, reported on the purchase of the truck for garden maintenance.Unfortunately the Mayor's message contains a typographical error in that it refers to the truck reducing Carbon Monoxide emissions by 72%. This should read "Carbon Dioxide", as indicated by the chemical symbol in the report (CO2).

Also it is not clear that a hybrid truck is not particularly suited to garden maintenance, as the Mayor suggests. Hybrid vehicles achieve greatest savings when operating at low speed in stop start traffic. A good example of such an application are garbage trucks, which stop every few metres and rarely exceed a few kilometers an hour. Local busses are another example. In contrast a garden maintenace truck spends most of its time stationary with the engine turned off, while the garden work is being done. As a result little saving is made in fuel use.

This is a good initiative, but the council might like to consider other uses for it. These trucks have a useful role by providing electrical power. One use would be for powering the hot water weed killing unit often used for roadside weeds. These are usually powered by a diesel generator mounted on the truck. With a hybrid truck the generator could be eliminated.

The council could also use the truck as an emergency generator for its disaster response. . Usually diesel generators are used for this role which require ot be specially purchased, maintained, fuelled and tested, which is expensive and environmentally unfriendly. Instead the council could have the hybrid truck fitted with a socket to allow its generator and batter to supply electrical power. This could be used for extended and extensive blackouts at council premises. It could also be used to power a mobile emergency facility., such as those provided by Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES). The truck could also be used for power at council work sites and at community functions in parks where mains power is not avialable. The Petersham Tafe are experienced in the development of alternative power systems and should be able to advice how to do this.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ICT at the UN Climate Change Conference

iSeeT Climate Change KioskThe UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) will have an associated exhibition called "iSeeT @ the Climate Change Kiosk", showing how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help. I have offered the materials from my Green Technology Strategies Course for the Kiosk.

... exhibition at the UN Climate Change Conference - COP 15, 7-18 December 2009, Copenhagen Information and communication technology (ICT) to increase awareness and support action on climate change.

UNFCC) will focus on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are helping to increase awareness and to support concrete action on climate change in both developing and developed countries.

The exhibition will tell stories about current ICT-related projects undertaken by governments, United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and media organizations on their own or with private sector partners. Among the contributors are the United Nations (UN), UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Reporting Services (Earth Negotiations Bulletin) among many others.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is contributing a special programme of daily "business talks" by leaders in the ICT sector from both developing and developed countries.


Using ICTs as the main theme, the Kiosk will seek to show, display, present and exhibit practical examples of existing and upcoming technologies and practices along with related products and services showing how ICT is and can be used to combat climate change. The Kiosk will also serve to highlight the role that governments, the private sector and civil society are playing in using ICTs to bring about technological innovation and technology transfer to support mitigation and adaptation (e.g. how ICTs are being used to help reduce emissions by replacing unnecessary air travel, in "energy-smart" technologies and in disaster risk reduction).

Overall goal

Participants visiting the Kiosk will come away with ideas, information and contacts on practical ways in which ICT is currently helping people around the globe to combat climate change, and what is available that may be applied or transferred to other countries, especially in support of the deal struck in Copenhagen.

Programme of demonstrations and presentations

Programme will be developed by the UNFCCC secretariat in cooperation with the Government of Denmark, interested governments, UN organizations, and relevant NGOs accredited to the UNFCCC process. Governments and organizations having established relationships with private sector ICT companies will be able to invite companies to participate in their demonstrations and presentations.

The programme will cover up to 11 days of programming and will be managed throughout to ensure a representative presentation of information, including private sector partners.

The programme will be of two types: demonstrations and exhibits of projects and tools in 1 of the 4 thematic demonstration spaces, and presentations on selected topics in a central presentation space.

Demonstration spaces

The demonstration spaces will each be focussed on 4 themes. Each of the 4 spaces will have 2 LCD screens allowing 2 demonstrations to occur at the same time. Each LCD screen will be equipped with a networked laptop connected to a screen and the Internet. A small counter and 2 stools for each of the 2 demonstration areas will accommodate the laptop/staff for each demonstration. It will be possible to distribute a brochure or factsheet.

Demonstration and exhibits of tools may be scheduled for varying periods of time in order to allow as many participants as possible to visit each demonstration, e.g. about 100-200 visitors for each demonstration per day. Demonstration periods are: half day, full day, 2 days.

Themes of the 4 demonstration spaces

  1. data management and visualization of information for analysis and decision-making;
  2. collaboration, social networks, e-communities and virtual work groups
  3. outreach, dissemination, e-government and public participation;
  4. capacity building and technology transfer to support developing countries, including Internet connectivity and training.

Presentation space

The central presentation space will be equipped with a Cisco TelePresence (CTS 1000) suite - allowing for external presenters to present to participants in the COP 15 venue from 61 countries, and an LCD screen that may be used by presenters to show PowerPoint slides or show a movie on DVD. Some presentation will be webcast on demand on the Internet.

Presentations will be given each day between 13h00-15h00 and 18h00-20h00. Presentation periods will be maximum 1 hour. During periods when presentations are not being given, the central presentation space will be used for half day demonstrations.

Online presence

An online, Internet website will provide a repository for all presentations and demonstrations as well as on demand webcasts.

Note to participation

In principle, all contributors to iSeeT@theKiosk must be Parties to the UNFCCC or be participants from approved observer organizations. Any individuals who wish to be present at their respective demonstrations or presentations must be officially registered through their government or observer organization. No funding is available for travel or other expenses that may be related to a demonstration or presentation at the Kiosk.

Information on formats and options for demonstrations will be forthcoming e.g. PowerPoint, video on DVD, etc. ...

From: iSeeT@theClimateChangeKiosk, secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang, 2009

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do rich people have to use more energy?

Greetings from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU. The issue under discussion in today's seminar by David I. Stern on "Modelling Global Trends in Energy Efficiency" is the relationship between standards of living and energy use. This is important for the current proposals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions. It has been assumed that as countries develop and standards of living increase, then energy use increases making it more difficult to curb CO2 emissions.

Crude measures of energy intensity can be misleading, as they do not take into account the technology being used. As an example on crude measures Mexico looks more efficient in energy use, but on a more detailed analysis the USA is more efficient. One outcome of this analysis is that countries which use coal have an handicap, due to its high level of pollution.

An interesting aspect to such models is that they assume that the energy is used to produce the same products. I suggest that with disruptive technologies such as ICT, this does not apply. That is rather than trying to get developing nations to produce the same goods developed countries do, but with less energy and less CO2 pollution, instead they can skip the dark satanic mills of the industrial revolution and move straight to an information economy. Rather than replacing bullock carts with trucks for delivering paper documents, the Internet can be used to replace both the vehicle and the paper documents.

Dr. Stern's main conclusion seems to be that when distortions due to developing countries undervaluing their currency are removed, there is no clear relationship between energy intensity and GDP per capital. That is getting rich does not result in your using more energy.

One of the problems I had with Dr. Stern's analysis was that it is based on nation states. This assumes that technology, economy and culture are uniform within a county. This does not apply, particularly to India and China, where the developed regions look more like that of each other and like western nations, than like the rural hinterland of the same country. As an example in business terms Bangalore has more in common with California, than it does with the rest of India. In some cases these differences are formalised, where for example China's special zones have different rules and financial regulations.

Perhaps it would be useful to use the measures of the number of mobile telephones and broadband connections in these calculations. This would provide a measure of the IT use of the country. It would be interesting to see if this correlates with energy use. It would seem on the face of it that rich people would have more mobile phones and broadband. But mobile phones are spreading rapidly through developing nations and broadband is not far behind.

Next week's seminar is Promoting Development, Saving the Planet.

Fenner School Seminar Series

Thursday 12th November 2009

1-2pm, in Fenner School FORESTRY LECTURE THEATRE, Forestry building 48

Modelling Global Trends in Energy Efficiency

David I. Stern
Arndt-Corden Division of Economics, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University


This seminar reports on ongoing research in the CERF Environmental Economics Research Hub funded project: “Modelling the Global Diffusion of Energy Efficiency and Low-Carbon Technology”. The environmental Kuznets curve has been a popular simple model of the relationship between economic growth and environmental quality. It is plagued, however, by significant econometric issues and explains relatively little about the differences in emissions between countries. The between estimator is a simple consistent estimator of long-run coefficients in panel data that avoids these issues and performs well in real world situations. I apply the between estimator to both environmental Kuznets curves for carbon and sulfur emissions and a more sophisticated production frontier model of energy efficiency. The latter model explains differences in energy efficiency across countries in terms of differences in input and output mix, climate, and differences in the level of energy efficiency technology. The residuals from this model are the underlying trends in energy efficiency technology in each country. In the final part of the presentation I will show how a social choice model can be used to explain differences in environmental technology across countries.


Photo of David SternDavid Stern is an energy and environmental economist with an interdisciplinary background in geography and economics. His research has focused on understanding the relationship between resource use and economic growth and development. He has investigated both the role of energy and resources in economic growth and the determinants of environmental impacts, especially air pollution and climate change. He is currently working on a project funded by the Environmental Economics Research Hub titled: “Modelling the Global Diffusion of Energy Efficiency and Low-Carbon Technology”.

The Fenner School Seminar Series is held in the Forestry Lecture Theatre, Forestry Building 48, Linnaeus Way (comes off Daley Road), ANU (Acton) campus, ACT

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Smart electricity meters may displace NBN

Victorian electricity distributor SP AusNet has announced it will install 680,000 WiMax connected smart meters by 2013, with about 40,000 installed by mid 2010. These will be used for smart grid applications to allow better management of energy use and cut carbon emissions. But an obvious additional step would be to include WiFi in the home meters. This could be used to communicate with appliances in the home and as a by-product provide a broadband Internet service to rival the NBN.

The meters are part of the Victorian Government Advanced Metering Infrastructure program (AMI). These will record electricity consumption in at least half hour increments, be remotely read and allow the electricity distributor to locate outages.

The system will use MotorolaWiMAX WAP 650 base stations on 2.3GHz connected by a microwave system. It will use a "flat" IP architecture.
Motorola will supply and deploy WiMAX WAP 650 base stations operating at 2.3GHz, Access Service Network (ASN) Gateway and new microwave systems to extend the wide area network (WAN) to new coverage areas. The system is based on a flat, all-IP architecture that enables high-speed machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It will facilitate communication with SP AusNet’s smart meters embedded with WiMAX chipsets, collecting measurements and sending instructions in real time, supporting the analysis of usage patterns and power generation needs. This wireless network also will allow SP AusNet to facilitate smooth communications for its field operations. The project spans a four-year period, and Motorola will start shipping and installing products by the end of 2009. ...

From: Motorola Powers World’s First WiMAX-based Electric Utility Smart Metering for SP AusNet, Press Release,Motorola, Inc., October 22, 2009

Partnering with SP AusNet in the AMI program are: Landis+Gyr, GE and GridNet, UXC Limited, Electrix,
Motorola, Unwired, eMeter, Logica, Accenture, Enterprise Business Services, and Geomatic Technologies. ...

From: Smart partnerships for SP AusNet’s smart meter roll out, Media Release, SP AusNet, 22 October 2009

Smart meters are being rolled out to all Victorian households and small businesses over the next four years to help people better manage their energy use and cut carbon emissions.

The new smart meters - also known as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) - will provide two-way communication between your electricity meter and your power company, making more immediate information about your electricity use available to you both.

Victoria is the first state in Australia to give the go-ahead for the wide spread roll-out of smart meters. Covering 2.2 million homes and 300,000 businesses, this is a big task, representing one of the biggest improvements to energy infrastructure in the state’s history.

It’s a key step towards future smart electricity grids, which we need so that more renewable energy can be fed into the grid.

The meters will allow customers to access accurate electricity reads every 30 minutes, which helps to monitor and reduce electricity usage - and save money on power bills.

It will be easier to connect and disconnect power when you move house, and power companies will be able to identify outages and restore power more quickly. It will also mean the end of estimated bills or staying in for meter readings.

Electricity distribution companies - who own the poles and wires which deliver electricity to your homes and businesses - will start installing meters towards the end of 2009 and finish by the end of 2013.

Role of Government

Smart Meters Fact Sheet (PDF 113KB) ...

Smart Meters Questions and Answers
Smart meter rollout project
Smart meters in my home
Smart meter installaltion
Smart meter and my electricity bill
Security and privacy

From: Advanced Metering Infrastructure program (AMI), Victorian Government, 30/09/2009.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 09, 2009

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

Campus Carbon Calculator

The Campus Carbon Calculator is a free manual and spreadsheet to help universities calculate their greenhouse gas emissions and look at costs and options for reductions. This is a US orientated calculator and much of the advice on funding in the manual is specific to US institutions. But there is a Canadian version of the calculator, which could be useful in Australia and other parts of the world which use standard units of measurement. The calculator is used for the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (see next posting).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 24, 2009

ANU Green ICT Working Group

The Australian National University Green ICT Working Group is meeting on Monday and I will be giving a presentation on how to teach Green ICT. ANU people which to attend can contact ANUgreen.
The Green IT working Group has now had two meetings, and will meet monthly over 6 months of this year to steer the development of a Green ICT strategy for the university. Membership of the group spans experts from across campus. The group has agreed first to measure impact of existing ICT fleet, and then tackle introducing improvements. ANUgreen has recruited a student intern to work alongside Doug Moncur from DOI to commence measurement of ICT fleet’s ecological and financial
impact. ...


Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Shared Office Design Cabinets

Shared Office Design for six people, two at a timeHere is a shared office design for six people per office, two at a time. Unlike the previous design, there are no mobile pedestal units. Instead there is one fixed drawer per person at the desks, for small items. All other storage is in cabinets on the opposite wall. This reduces the problem of having to wheel a drawer unit around.

Labels: , , , ,

Global 50% CO2 Reduction by 2050

The Group of Eight meeting in L’Aquila issued a declaration on Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future 8 July 2009. This supported a reduction in co2 emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 of 50% globally and by developed countries of 80%. Unfortunately there was no mention of short terms goals within a practical time frame, such as by 2020. There was support for cap & trade schemes and carbon trading.

International aviation and maritime transport were singled out as significant and growing source of emissions. Research and development in basic and applied clean technology research and development was also mentioned. Unfortunately there was no mention of measures to reduce energy use, which are likely to be more practical in the sort term, over the next ten years, than "clean technology" which will take many decades to be developed and implemented. I will be teaching some of the reduction measures to students around the world in COMP7310: Green ICT Strategies at The Australian National Universityfrom late July.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Micro Luxury Cars to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Aston Martin Cygnet Commuter Concept CarWith the Cygnet commuter concept car, Aston Martin have come up with a very clever way to reduce the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of their car fleet. The Cygnet is based on a Toyota iQ city car, with with a Aston Martin nose and luxury interior. At about twice the price of the iQ, the Cygnet will still be cheap for an Aston Martin and could be included as an optional extra with a DBS, DB9, Vantage, or a Rapide.

The V12 Vantage has a combined fule economy of 16.35 l/100km. The fuel consumption for the iQ is 4.3 L/100 km. So if one Cygnet is sold for every Vantage, the average fuel consumption will be 10.325 L/100 km, a reduction of 37%. Assuming that purchasers only drive their Vantage on weekends and use the Cygnet during the week (and drive the same amount every day), the consumption would be 7.743 L/100 km, a reduction of 53%.

A cynic might suggest that the Cygnet will not achieve any fuel saving, just sitting in the owner's garage unused, while the larger Aston Martin is driven. However, those drivers are likely to soon find that a city car is faster, has more luggage carrying capacity and more pleasant to drive in the city than a large grand tourer. A small car, such as my Daihatsu Sirion can easily navigate traffic and find small parking spaces. The low power of the 1 litre engine is irrelevant where speed rarely get above 80 kph. With only one or two people in the car there is sufficient room and the hatchback provides more load capacity than a large four door car.

If the Cygnet proves popular, there are numerous other small City Cars available which luxury makers could use to build their own small car from. A small luxury can might be commonly included in the purchase price of the larger luxury cars, in much the same way a branded keyring is.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ACT Strategic Public Transport Network Plan

The ACT Government has issued for a request for tender for a "Cost Benefit Analysis - ACT Strategic Public Transport Network Plan" (29 June 2009). There is a 35 page (109.5 kb PDF) tender document which outlines the ACT's public transport strategy and triple bottom line approach to cost benefit analysis. Unfortunately, apart from the tender documents, I was unable to find any reference online to any work being undertaken for the plan. The ACT government appears to be starting from scratch very late in developing a public transport plan.
The ACT Government has been working on an integrated transport plan that will help create a more sustainable transport environment in the ACT. The Plan will help respond to climate change, and provide benefits to the whole community by making the transport system more efficient, effective, sustainable, and accessible. The key components of this integrated transport plan are strategies for public transport, parking, cycling, walking and transport infrastructure supplemented by detailed implementation plans for the next several years.

As part of developing a strategy for public transport, the ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) has undertaken a study entitled the ACT Strategic Public Transport Network Plan (PT Plan). This PT Plan has focused on a study year of 2031, with improvements identified over the twenty-two years in the future.

The key elements of the PT Plan are the identification of:
  • a “back-bone” network structure for public transport operation. This is called the frequent network in the PT Plan;
  • an express network structure to meet commuter needs during peak periods; and
  • a coverage network to meet social goals and accessibility needs.
The frequent network has two components: frequent rapid services and frequent local services. The frequent network refers to services that run frequently offering reliable public transport at intervals which negate reliance on a timetable. In the long term this is designed to run every 15 minutes.

Further, the frequent network runs for a long service day, usually a span of at least 15 hours per day, 7 days per week.

The service characteristics of this network have been identified in the PT Plan. The PT Plan has also identified the infrastructures that support the operation of the proposed network structure and service design.

The PT Plan has recognised that there is a direct trade off between the resources devoted on the “back-bone” network and the “coverage” network. The recommended service design in the study estimates that there is a potential to achieve more than 16% mode split towards public transport by 2031.

The implementation of this network structure, therefore, has the benefit of increasing the role of public transport within the ACT and reducing car reliance to some extent.

Emerging Issues
In the past few years, major policy issues such as peak oil, climate change and the social inclusion role of public transport (PT) have come to the fore of transport thinking and planning in the ACT.

An effective public transport system can and should improve the liveability of a city, and a strategically designed PT system would help us adapt and address both sustainable and broader transport planning challenges. This is reflected in the National Capital Plan, and these sentiments have been expanded in policy documents such as the 2004 Canberra Spatial Plan, the 2004 Sustainable Transport Plan, and the Integrated Transport Framework published in August 2008.

Such a system has the potential to support a more compact urban structure, delivering on the principles of integrated land use and transport planning espoused in the National Charter for Land Use and Transport Planning, to which the ACT is a signatory along with all the other jurisdictions. ...

4.2 Description of Work
The consultancy is to be based on a Triple Bottom Line cost-benefit analysis. The cost–benefit analysis should go beyond conventional factors such as travel time, vehicle operating costs and crash costs, and needs to consider other factors such as environmental impacts, potential carbon emission reduction, social benefits through improved accessibility, business opportunities and land use intensification, and municipal service cost reduction from urban consolidation.

In developing the final report, the consultant should identify, and quantify as far as possible, the potential economic, social and environmental benefits of the PT Plan. An effective public transport system provides opportunities for urban consolidation and greater land value capture.

The modelling of the PT Plan was undertaken by McCormick Rankin Cagney (MRC) using the strategic transport model EMME and further detailed modelling was carried out using VISUM.

Specifically, the scope of works includes:

· Modelling and quantitative assessment of economic, environmental and social costs/opportunities;
· Reviewing and determining network scenarios of different frequent network coverage and network balance, based on the PT Plan and by consulting with the client;
· Establishing a base case: “Do Nothing” to benchmark assessment;
· Assessing potential for land value capture, urban consolidation and transit orientated development, particularly at key interchanges and corridors;
· Developing of a comprehensive cost – benefit analysis; and
· Suggesting the most beneficial option for the ACT Government to pursue.

Modelling and assessment of economic, environmental and social factors:
The analysis must include both qualitative and quantitative assessment of opportunities the implementation of the PT Plan would provide for the ACT in the areas of:

· Sustainability and climate change benefits, including greenhouse gas reductions;
· Potential health benefits, for example through reduced vehicle emissions and more active lifestyles;
· Economic opportunities for the ACT and region, including integration of the city's key retail and office precincts, core education and tourism facilities, and greater development in areas bordering the route (see TOD below);
· Social inclusion opportunities, including urban design and amenity, accessibility and affordability; and
· Other benefits/opportunities identified by the consultant.

In addition to quantification of the above benefits, the cost – benefit analysis will need to include implementation life cost estimates based on the resources and infrastructure costs. The analysis should address a range of input variables such as population growth and the cost of petrol, parking
and bus fares. The cost – benefit analysis should also refer to the potential impact of carbon pricing on cost estimates in light of the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2010.

The analysis can use the Australian Transport Council guidelines – the “National Guidelines for Transport System Management in Australia" at

From: Cost Benefit Analysis - ACT Strategic Public Transport Network Plan, ACT Government, 29 June 2009

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shared Office Design

Shared Office Design for six people, two at a timeOne way to reduce energy use in offices is to have more sharing of printers, but another way is more shared office design, with more people per office. The example I will use is for visiting and adjunct staff at the School of Computer Science, in the Computer Science and Information Technology building (CSIT), ANU, Canberra. A simple arrangement could increase the number of people per office three to six times.

The CISCO Connected Workplace proof-of-concept project proposed reducing space per employee by 40% from 160 to 106 square feet, for general administrative personnel. CISCO estimated a reduction in energy use through this and other techniques of 58% from 423.9 W to 178.7 W per employee.These figures are comparable with those my students estimated in the Green ICT course.

One way to reduce energy consumption of a building is to make better use of the space. One way to do that is to make sure the space is fully utilised. Like other academic institutions, the ANU has Academic Affiliates. These are people who are not full time staff, but have an association with the institution. They provide a valuable connection between the university and industry, government, other research organisations. Some are on campus daily for some days or weeks, others visit for a few hours or a day every few days or weeks.

Normally a professor would get their own dedicated office, and a lecturer a smaller office. Such an arrangement is wasteful, both of space and energy, for affiliates who may only use the office a few days a month.

Some institutions solve the space problem with open plan offices. However, as a high status organisation which places a premium on the thinking time of its people, this would not suit the ANU. One alternative used is to place two staff in one office. This doubles the space efficiency, but more is possible.

A simple option is to time share the offices, with provision for more staff to share the offices at different times. A workable option would be up to six staff per office. According to "The Google Way: How One Company is Revolutionizing Management As We Know It" (Bernard Girard, No Starch Press, 2009) six is the optimal number for a team. So this is a reasonable number of people who can work out an arrangement together (it is not coincidence that the six cup coffee pot is the most common and the original AppleTalk protocol applied six computers in work group). Also it would be difficult to fit storage for more than six people in a typical office. With six in one office, they each get about one day a week, or about two days a week if the office is shared by two people.

There are many shared office designs featuring hot-desking. These may involve the staff member collecting a wheeled unit with their items from a locker room near the foyer of the office building and taking it to an allocated cubicle. This arrangement would not suit the ANU environment. Apart from the implied reduction in status for the people, it would need a large scale to be feasible, extensive changes to building fit out and would also eliminate the informal interactions between personnel which are valuable in a research environment.

The CSIT building is currently partitioned for two sizes of offices, the smaller for lecturers and ones twice as large for professors. For visitors and adjuncts, two may be allocate one office. Offices have one long wall fitted with floor to ceiling adjustable shelves, intended for a large number of books academics typically have.

Visitors and adjuncts tend to have fewer books, allowing for a reallocation of space. If the bottom two shelves are removed, this provides a desk height floor space. An under desk mobile pedestal unit could be placed in this space. These units are about 500 mm wide, so six units would take up about 2m, allowing for some space between. With one drawer unit allocated to each person, the shelf space above each drawer unit could also be allocated to that person.

Ideally there would need to be some secure storage for paperwork and other items. This could be done with lockable cabinets and vertical filing units replacing some of the shelves. This would provide about .4 m3 of storage per person, or about the size of five filing cabinet drawers, or one common size vertical locker.

With only six people to a room, there would not be a need for a complex booking system. But some form of online noticeboard would still be needed to say who was going to be in when. Also some way to allocate telephone numbers would be of use. Each person could be allocated their own telephone number, which would be forwarded when they were not at the office.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Carbon Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project is a non profit UK based group which collates voluntary reports on carbon emissions from organisations around the world. As an example below are the entries for telecommunications companies which mention Australia in their report:
  • Company Name
  • Country
  • Sample
  • Response Status
  • View Response

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Set Windows 7 for power saving

The posting "The skinny on power management in Windows 7"by Martin LaMonica (CTNET News Green Tech 12 June 2009), claims that Microsoft has made energy efficiency a key design element of Windows 7. But what settings are enabled by default? Many people do not change the settings in their operating system and the default Windows 7 setting could have a significant effect on Australia's overall energy consumption and carbon emissions for the next decade.

In "Windows 7 Energy Efficiency" Microsoft's engineers discuss energy saving opportunities, including that about 40% of the power in a laptop, and new laptop-like small desktops, is consumed by the screen. But what I couldn't find was a clear statement that the power saving options, including setting the screen to go blank be default, would be set by default in the official release of Windows 7. Reasonable defaults would be for the screen to switch off after five minutes of inactivity, the computer to switch to sleep mode after 60 minutes and to hibernate after 3 hours.

Labels: , , , ,