How big an eco-hazard is IT equipment?
A hard charge to make stick...
Any legislator expecting major direct gains from little black boxes that sit in the corner feeling vaguely warm, however, is going to be severely disappointed. Faced with the information that a plugged in Nokia charger is costing them a fraction of their annual cappuccino budget, consumers are unlikely to be particularly troubled.
More usefully though, faced with the information that their lightbulbs eat a lot more of the planet than their chargers, they'll be more likely to focus on the things that make a more serious difference. IT and consumer electronics could end up as the poster child of environmental responsibility, as the numbers start to become more public.
With a couple of exceptions. The switch to digital has, in Dr Reger's view, has had a significant effect on overall consumption, and of the appliances on the commission's hit list, the plasma screen is very much the Hummer in the living room.
An old style CRT TV (older readers might remember these) might use about 100 watts, while a sizeable LCD unit could use double that. Plasma displays, however, can tip the scales at anything up to 500-600 watts, so a biggish home cinema system could be costing something in the region of €200 a year.
It's consumption that barely existed ten years ago, and now it's a significant percentage of total domestic power consumption. Nor, comparatively speaking, is standby the big issue here - it's what the things do when they're on that's the problem.
The data centre is an exception that isn't directly addressed by the commission's IT plans, which focus mainly on specific devices rather than collections of them with associated environmental control.
According to Intellect (High Tech, Low Carbon), data centres use 2.2 to 3.3 per cent of the UK's total electricity, with 50 per cent of this being accounted for by cooling systems.
Big iron doesn't do standby terribly well, and even if it's just sitting there doing nothing and waiting for something to happen, a data centre is still going to be racking up a fair old tab. If at zero load you're using 50 per cent of the power you use at 100 per cent load you're doing good, and if you find yourself running at 100 per cent load all of the time (which is where you might deem the operation most 'efficient') then the career-sensitive IT manager is going to get some more spare capacity in there, fast.
At the individual hardware level switching over to greener processors that use less power and generate less heat makes some difference, while smart cooling systems can reduce the level of spend on climate control. Beyond this, consumption reductions can be achieved via the potentially contradictory routes of consolidation and decentralisation.
By viewing server capacity as a centralised resource and employing virtualisation, it's feasible to reduce total server capacity by making 'on-demand' capacity available. Alternatively, smaller, low-noise, low-energy servers that don't require a separate server room could be used by SOHO customers to reduce or eliminate the need for centralised server capacity.
FSC offers both routes - lightweight SOHO servers and units with VMware built-in, while Dr Reger sees virtualisation as a route that leads to substantial savings.
Given the complexity of the issues involved, however, IT managers are more likely to get beaten up about overall IT power bills than they are to get a clear understanding from bosses and legislators about what makes sense and makes a difference, and what doesn't. Big, quick, wins are therefore necessary, and the data centre looks a fruitful place to achieve them.
Consider, though, what it is that makes IT a power villain in the first place. Why, as Dr Reger puts it, is it fair that IT should start from zero? The technology we've deployed over the past 30 years has to a great extent been intended to produce savings, and if we think in terms of carbon footprints, then a pretty substantial IT green revolution could be said to have taken place before it even became fashionable. A little halo-polishing is therefore, possibly, permissible. ®
As Usuall only half the story is told
and what about the RF-Emissions that all this IT gear produces.
I see that no-one bothers to take into account the damage to the population or wildlife that RFI / ELECTROSMOG is causing.
So i predict that in 20 years we will be all walking about in the latest fashionable RFI sheilded clothing, wearing RFI proof netting over our heads(like beekeepers).
or, that all mobile comunications devices will be banned and there will be no masts to blot the skyline of our schools and housing estates.
either way the NHS will haveimploded with the shear weight of the population suffering from numerous diverse medical symptoms which can all be sourced back to 1980 as the date it all started.(1st phone towers went up).
i personally long for the day that all crackberry addicts get thier just deserts, what flavour of cancer or other RF induced permanent disability would you like, doesnt really matter, you can expect a very long-very painfull drawn out existance(welcome to the club).
The government has no intention in furthering research or preventing whats coming, as the current status quo keeps the chavs in jobs(selling and using mobiles) the industry generates billions of $$$.
They dont need to bother wasting money on finding out why the bees all die off(RFI/Electrosmog), as they can just import more from austrailia, as the US is doing.(for now!)
It makes money from taxes, keeps the economy ticking over nicely, and they dont have to worry about the pensions issue looming, as most people will be killed off by the side effects of RFI before they reach pensionable age, and since there are so many towers next to OAP homes, it will simply speed up the attrition rate.
Win-Win all round to the government, lose-lose to the general population who are and will be missled by bad science funded and distorted by the vested interests of the multi-trillion pound mobile phone business.(ciggy anyone!)
mines the crinkly silver one with the burnt edges......
If you cared about power consumption
You wouldn't iron your clothes.
If you want to get serious as a govt. introduce communal cooking facilities in urban areas. Home cooking is seriously wasteful.
Stop TV transmission at midnight-6am.
Make public transport near free, including trains & the underground.
Quadruple the price of petrol.
Force shops to turn off lights when closed (my local TkMaxx is 3 floors of Xmas tree at night)
Turn off every other street light.
Anything else, like fiddling around with PSUs, is just pissing about.
Can we have a "False Finishing Touch" icon please?
As I think Jeffypooh's analogy is indeed just the ticket and relevant to a lot of Reg articles.
Perhaps a J-Reg 1.3 Honda Civic with a huge exhaust, as he suggested?
Same Woolly Logic Gave Us Low Energy Light-bulb Crusade
Technical ignorance is rarely a check on eco-campaigners in full cry. The same people are foisting Low Enrgy Lightbulbs onto a (cold) Northern European population where any savings will be miniscule. We will however be just able to read of the triumph in the shimmering, eerie glow of a 15W neon lamp.
CRT vs TFT
It is clear that CRTs consume way more power than comparable size TFTs..
So, why do the new TFT sets consume more than old CRTS? SIZE. If you double the size, you cuadruple the surface.. and there it is...more power requirements.
A good researcher would mention the SIZE as a problem, not TFT technology, because TFT technology is more efficient even using CCFL backlight, and even more using the new led backlight units.