ARRA funds to improve IT and telecom energy efficiency

The Dept. of Energy will award $47 million to boost IT and telecom energy efficiency.



The Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced on Jan. 6, 2010, that it will award more than $47 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for 14 projects across the country to improve energy efficiency in the information technology (IT) and communication technology sectors. The Recovery Act funds will be matched by more than $70 million from private industry. This DOE initiative is underway because the rapid growth in the data processing, data storage, and telecommunications industries has led to an increase in electricity consumption. IT and telecommunications facilities account for approximately 120 billion kWh hours of electricity annually, equaling 3% of all U.S. electricity consumption. Advances in the sectors' energy efficiency can produce energy and cost savings while reducing carbon pollution.

The new funding is for research, development, and demonstration projects in three subject areas: equipment and software projects, focused on the core components such as servers and networking devices, as well as software to optimize energy use; technologies aimed at cutting both the power loss and heat generation that occurs as electricity moves through server-based systems; and advanced cooling technologies. For example, one company, Power Assure Inc., which is getting $5 million, estimates its new power management software could cut energy use by 50% in large server farms by turning servers off and on when needed. Another company, Federspiel Controls, will use a $584,000 grant to develop a new dynamic cooling system that employs variable fan speeds, adjustable air inlets, and wireless temperature sensors to monitor and adjust temperatures in data centers. The company estimates that cooling systems typically account for 25% of a data center's energy use. See the DOE's Industrial Technologies Program Website.

In addition to the new funding, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is working directly with Silicon Valley companies to demonstrate energy-efficient data center technologies, such as temperature sensors embedded in servers to control cooling, modular cooling systems, and dynamic cooling systems connected to wireless sensors. LBNL is providing technical assistance to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group with funding from the California Energy Commission. According to a recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan, there is a growing interest in energy efficiency solutions for data centers as companies look for ways to cut costs during the economic downturn. For an average company, Frost & Sullivan estimates that IT infrastructure accounts for 5% to 10% of the company's total energy consumption.


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