This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 28, 2007

"Green Grid" Consortium Takes Aim on Data Center Energy Use

A photo of a long row of large rectangular boxes of computer equipment receding into the distance.

The growing use of large data centers, the workhorses of the Internet, is causing computer companies, utilities, and others to focus on energy efficiency.
Credit: Š Alim

A new consortium of 11 companies, including the top computer manufacturers, has been formed to advance energy efficiency in computer data centers. Unveiled on February 26th, the new "Green Grid" consortium bills itself as the first industry initiative to take a holistic view of the computing ecosystem, with a focus on addressing the pressing issues facing data center users. Data centers include the "server farms" that are the backbone of the Internet. According to the Green Grid, data center energy efficiency is the most pressing issue facing technology providers and their customers today, partly because of exponential increases in power and cooling costs, and also because the demand for data centers is outpacing the availability of clean, reliable power in many parts of the world. As part of the consortium's unveiling, the Green Grid released three white papers: one on the opportunity to increase energy efficiency, one on guidelines for efficient data centers, and one that defines two new metrics for measuring efficiency in data centers. See the Green Grid press release and white papers.

Several electric utilities in California, including the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), have banded together to address the same issue, and have recently joined forces with utilities and utility organizations in the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and the Northeast. The effort aims to coordinate utility energy efficiency programs for data centers. Meanwhile, a new report from the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) labels data center efficiency as a "new policy frontier," while a new study prepared for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) finds that U.S. data centers are consuming 45 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, or about 1.2 percent of the power produced in the country. DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory contributed to the study, which notes that data center electricity use doubled between 2000 and 2005, both in the United States and in the world as a whole. See the PG&E and ASE press releases, and the AMD-funded study (PDF 1.3 MB). Download Adobe Reader.