Google, Intel and the other backers of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative are to be commended for their efforts to address an issue that is on the minds of corporate buyers but not well understood.
The approach the group is taking — to encourage companies to buy products that are certified as energy efficient — will make it easier for IT to play a role in going green, even as they struggle to come to grips with larger IT power-consumption questions.
The Climate Savers' goal is to increase the efficiency of PC power supplies from the 80 percent specified by the EPA's Energy Star guidelines today to 90 percent by 2010, and ratchet that up to 92 percent for volume servers.
Reducing energy consumption in this manner, the group says, should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 11 million cars from the road.
Climate Savers says going green will add about $US20 to the cost of a PC and $US30 to a server. But the ROI is only two to three years based on this calculation: Increased efficiency should save 60 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per desktop per year for devices that are on for 2000 hours. At $US0.12/kWh, this "translates into savings of $US7.20 in energy costs", the group says. If you add in air-conditioning costs, that rounds up to $US10 in savings per device per year. Annual savings are greater for servers that are left on all the time.
Few companies have a handle on IT energy consumption and cost, so joining the initiative and committing to buy gear that meets the group's guidelines are concrete ways to start to make a difference. But it should be only the start. The real work to be done is in the data centre.
Over the life of a data centre the money spent on power may exceed the cost of the IT equipment, says Neil Rasmussen, CTO of American Power Conversion. At $US0.12 per kWh, "the annual electrical cost per kW of IT load is approximately $US1000", Rasmussen said.
"Over the 10-year life of a typical data centre, this translates to approximately $US10,000 per kW of load. A 200kW data centre would have a 10-year electricity cost of $US4 million."
About half of data centre power goes to IT loads, Rasmussen says. The rest feeds power-handling equipment, cooling and lighting, all of which represent opportunities for savings. He estimates that savings of 20 percent to 50 percent are possible.
It's time to get serious about energy.
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