Two percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are attributed to the information communication and technologies (ICT) sector. This figure represents 1 billion kilowatts of electricity required to keep 3 billion PCs and mobile devices and over 500 million host computers running! The EU-funded team under FIT4Green ('Federated IT for a sustainable environmental impact') has set itself the ambitious goal of tackling this overconsumption. The project is funded with EUR 3.18 million under the ICT Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
Videoconferencing, e-commerce and a host of other technologies produced by the ICT sector have helped to reduce the amount of energy we use simply by eliminating the need for us to travel. But with the ICT sector's staggering amount of global CO2 emissions currently equalling that of the aviation sector (1.75% of carbon emissions result from the use of ICT products and services and 0.25% from their production), the industry must find drastic ways to reduce its energy bill.
A recent evaluation undertaken by AMAZON of its data centre expenses has shown that server costs of the e-commerce giant account for 53%, while energy-related costs account for 42%. By reducing the amount of energy consumed by just a fraction, this would significantly reduce both the company's carbon footprint and its financial costs.
The FIT4Green team hopes to find a solution to the energy consumption challenge by creating an energy-aware layer of plug-ins. Used for data centre automation frameworks, the device will work by minimising overall power consumption.
The concept envisaged by the team is to have the plug-ins placed on top of current data centre management tools in order to orchestrate the allocation of ICT resources and turn off unused equipment. Importantly, this will all be done without compromising compliance requirements set by Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Quality of Service (QoS).
The researchers are so committed to the concept that they have set themselves a target to reduce energy consumption by at least 20% for direct server and network devices and a further 30% saving as a result of reduced cooling needs.
Over the next two-and-a-half years, the FIT4Green team will consider a range of deployment options for whole IT solutions, from the actual devices to the data centres where the applications and services are allocated. Team members will also run pilots to validate the models by using three representative data centre typologies: service/enterprise portal, supercomputing grid and cloud computing.
The EU has committed itself to several targets in the battle against climate change and for greater security in energy supply. These include a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, 20% improvement in energy efficiency and 20% share of consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020. The EU believes that innovations presented by the ICT sector have the potential to provide Member States with some of the most cost-effective means of achieving these targets.
FIT4Green is coordinated by GFI Informática (Spain) and HP Italy Innovation Centre (Italy) is the technological leader. Other partners include VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (Finland), University of Passau (Germany), Jülich Supercomputing Centre (Germany), University of Mannheim (Germany), Create-Net (Italy), Eni S.p.A. (Italy), Almende (the Netherlands) and Imperial College London (UK).
The first series of results developed under FIT4Green will be available in March 2011. The project will conclude in June 2012.