Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

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Cloud computing and the wasteful excesses of data centres

 

With the rapid increase in the use of cloud services and the number of cloud service options available, more data centres have popped up all over the globe, bringing with them a higher demand for electricity. Recent reports by the Energy Conservation Bureau suggest that data centres now consume 3% of all electricity generated in the United States. A September New York Times article, “Power, Pollution and the Internet”, reports that data centres waste large amounts of energy, with only 6 – 12% of energy used by data centres going towards computing.

Data centres often consist of rows of servers, computers whose primary purposes are to process data. The heat generated by these servers can melt crucial computer components, risking data loss. As data centres have grown many now spread rows of servers over hundreds of thousands of square feet and utilize industrial cooling systems to combat overheating. Tens of thousands of data centres now exist to support the heavy demands of internet use, with many of the largest internet companies running servers at full capacity regardless of demand, resulting in the excessive wasting of energy.

There are ways to build more energy-efficient data centres. Providers can consider re-evaluating their redundancy, utilizing storage virtualization, consolidating their servers, and upgrading to energy efficient technology. Some data centres utilize their environment to cool their systems, such as a local waterfall or cold Arctic air. If clients outsource data centre management to high quality facilities that follow these practices, they can avoid forming their own poor management habits. Outsourcing can also save clients from having to upscale and downscale their own equipment to match the changing demands on their business.

Though outsourcing offers advantages, if large data centres are not optimally managed, these industry practices only contribute to more energy consumption. A large data centre is not inherently more energy efficient than a small one, and the spreading of load does not guarantee a reduced need for capacity. It stands to reason the cloud service providers need more spare capacity available to serve their clients than if clients operated their own facilities. Some argue that cloud services help to improve the situation, leading to a consolidation and centralization of computing among large, well-operated data centres. This is not necessarily the case.

Powering the internet is a very environmentally unfriendly prospect. Cloud computing presents a path towards improving the situation, but it is not a solution in and of itself.

 

Mac Connolly has worked in the technology industry for the past 25 years, working for various well-known brands. He is currently working with Melbourne Server Hosting as a freelance writer sharing his experience of technology and the advances within green hosting and data centres.

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Interesting Bio-fuel solutions

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Guest Post by Maria Kruk, an author for Patentsbase.com

Search of new renewable energy solutions has embraced most of the countries recently. Indeed, growth of oil and gas prices and shortage of fuel deposits contributed a lot in referring to alternative power facilities, such as solar stations, wind farms and tidal power systems. However, these are the prerogative of those lands possessing suitable climate conditions and favoring national policy. On the contrary, the other states have many benefits for biofuels production, converting wastes and unnecessary materials into promising energy resources. Some examples testify on how creative and effective new technologies might be.

Germany is a vivid example of how biofuels might invest in national energy balance. For several decades German scientists have been working on biofuel technologies, and some of the concepts alerted governmental attention. To date, economic discussions are engaged in related issues, which are focused on how to make biofuels cheaper.  One of the received results is directed on car fuels production out of agricultural and wood wastes. The released technology features synthetic gasoline made of sawdust and straw, including two major stages: gathering basic material straightforward on farms and timber factories and gasoline production on the plant. Its price is expected to be 0,5 Euro per liter and the first supplies are scheduled on 2012.

Wageningen University and Research Centre in Ukraine is working on the concept of thermal and electrical energy from biomass gathered in Chernobyl restricted zone. It is appropriate to mention that this country still copes with consequences of tragic events of April 26th 1986, when there was a huge explosion on the local nuclear plant. However, biomass is offered to be cultivated on the lands cleared from radioactive effects.  All in all, the idea of any activity in Chernobyl zone is quite unpleasing and it might influence negatively on reputation of Ukrainian businessmen. Many scientists conclude that this area should be a testing ground for scientific experiments and investigations for many decades in future.

In contrast, Ukraine can boast of certain biomass advancement. It is the first country in Eastern Europe to establish a production of mobile industrial facilities that convert organic wastes into fuel pellets. These biofuel complexes, called “Forward”, are embedded on the truck platforms. Forward’s average capacity is about 2 tons per hour. The other advantage of these mobile platforms is their cost, which twice cheaper than foreign equipment – 300 thousand dollars.

During recent decades many countries in Europe opened huge biodiesel plants, using different primary materials. One of them is located in Spanish port Ferrol with a total capacity of 200 thousand tons of biodiesel fuels per year. It produces biodiesel from refined and unrefined vegetable oil, mainly soybean and canola oils. Giant biomass recycling plant was put in commission in Kalundborg city in Denmark. This facility performs several important tasks, which include recycling wheat straw, corn stalks and cobs, sugar bagasse and grass; usage of waste steam in biomass production and manufacturing lignin biofuel. Palm oil and rapeseed oil and animal fats are used in three biofuel plants in Rotterdam, which belong to Neste Oil Corp (Finland).  Their total capacity is 800 thousand tons of biodiesel annually.

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