From the Valley of the Green Giant, Google Energy Czar Lowers the Heat

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hiring some really smart, clever engineers who were willing to take some risks, we are fairly confident that we’ve cut our energy use in half relative to where it would be if we had followed essentially industry best practices,” Weihl said. “That’s a lesson that it’s possible to do that and doesn’t require exotic technologies.”

Google, however, has been slow to share its discoveries with the industry. It began releasing some information on its data centers after the company joined with others in 2007 to launch the Climate Savers Computing Initiative with the goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 54 million tons each year. “It’s a very fine balance we need to strike between opening to the whole world and helping the world, but also retaining the competitive advantage we’ve got in the industry,” Weihl said.

As much as Google and the rest of the industry can do to save power on the back end, even more energy is wasted by personal computer users. Weihl says all of the world’s desktops and laptops consume about one and a half to two times as much energy as all the servers and data centers. Power use by computers around the world is sure to grow, because right now only 20 percent of the world has access to computers.

But applying some of the lessons learned at Google could have a huge impact on climate change, Weihl says. “That could buy us a lot of time. It wouldn’t solve the problem, but it could buy us time.”

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3 responses to “From the Valley of the Green Giant, Google Energy Czar Lowers the Heat”

  1. The waste heat from data centers is an under used asset. Preheating water for restrooms and cafeterias comes to mind as a possible recovery method. Google could probably supply preheated water for the whole community. Evaporative cooling (cooling towers)works very well but consumes large volumes of water and Calif. is chronically short of water. Maybe they can provide free hot tub use for everyone.

  2. If you used direct liquid cooling, you could get the water up to 40-50C without overheating the processors, which would be useful for a lot of applications.

    The water consumption for 300 servers is about the same as for a typical household, and you can use reclaimed water, so it is not as bad as using all the electricity for air conditioning.

    Steve Harrington