Information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the most energy intensive, and fastest growing, segments of the US and global economy. Aiming to find new, innovative ways to conserve energy in the ICT industry, US telecoms giant Verizon and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) on July 27 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that could result in “a blueprint for energy efficient operations in one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world on a square-foot basis,” according to an NREL press release.
“Innovation and application of energy-saving technologies in a way that makes sense in the marketplace are vital to improving the nation’s economy and environment. NREL’s collaboration with Verizon offers a variety of possibilities for using clean energy and improving energy efficiency in a large and meaningful way,” NREL Director Dan Arvizu commented.
The ICT industry eats up some 3% of electrical power in the US, with telecommunications accounting for half the total, NREL points out. That’s only expected to increase with growth of mobile and cloud computing, along with the data centers and other infrastructure required to support them.
“Verizon has taken significant steps in becoming a greener more energy-efficient company,” said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer. “By partnering with one of the top science and technology labs in the world, we’ll be able to achieve even greater efficiencies in a cost-effective fashion. We’re very excited about this opportunity.”
The private-public partnership will work together in several areas according to the MoU, including:
- Energy efficiency and energy management at Verizon’s buildings and facilities;
- Energy efficiency and energy management at Verizon’s data centers, and
- Advancement of Smart Grid technologies and best practices, including energy and communication technologies in homes and buildings.
Verizon stands to benefit by being at the leading edge of energy efficiency innovations that result from the partnership. The telecoms provider also stands to gain by advancing and fostering adoption of such technology across ICT broadly speaking, as this would help to assure reliable power supply across the industry and the economy. Advances in these areas would also provide Verizon with a competitive advantage in rolling out new products and services to customers.
Increasing energy efficiency would, by definition, reduce the amount of energy required to power data centers and telecoms networks, thereby reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity consumption continues to grow, however; and it’s been pointed out that increasing energy efficiency has historically been outstripped by growing demand. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions may still wind up being lower if clean, renewable energy sources were to be used to power them.
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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.