Carbon Rules Will Create “Energy Tsars” Says Analyst


The UK government’s CRC carbon trading regulations will create new power-brokers – executives whose job is to co-ordinate corporate energy use

Today most Green IT is driven by cost-cutting, but carbon-trading laws such as the UK’s carbon reduction commitment (CRC) will create a new kind of executive: the “energy Tsar”, whose job is to make sure firms comply, say analysts.

Cost-cutting is the main reason organisations turn to Green IT today, but next year new regulations will start to alter company behaviour, says Forrester Research, which surveyed visitors to the Green IT 09 show in London earlier this year. . 

The Energy Tsar will be a new office power broker, with the role of keeping firms within increasingly stringent rules designed by governments to curb energy use. “The tsar will be a director of energy roles in the organisation,” said Forrester analyst Doug Washburn. “It might be a full time or part time role to understand how energy is being consumed, and develop tactics to reduceit.”

“It’s foreseeable that this could be part of the financial side of the business, under the auspices of the chief financial officer (CFO),” said Washburn (pictured). “The responsibility will lie between the CFO, CSR (corporate social responsibility) and IT – and most of those are in the facilities or real estate group.”

“I don’t foresee the role falling entirely into CSR or IT – it’s much more a coordination of activities working closely with those groups,” he said.

Regulatory pressures are still not foremost in firm’s minds, despite the imminent arrival of carbon rules, according to visitors at the Green IT 09 event in London. Forrester found. And after a year of financial turmoil, cost-cutting was top of the agenda, with users are looking for efficiency gains to optimise their resources.

The UK government announced “mandatory” green targets for the public sector, and urged government CIOs to “sweat their assets”, getting the most value out of existing IT resources.

Although financial issues are foremost, Forrester found that 86 percent of the respondents consider the environmental impact of IT – especially within
the data centre and desktop environments. Forty-three percent already have a corporate green IT plan in place, while almost all the rest are developing or consideriong a green IT action plan.

Although rules such as CRC will clearly have an effect on business, it is still too early to judge their practical results on overall energy use, said Washburn: “What is interesting is, it looks at consumers not just producers, and is targetting the top 20,000 consumers.”

The impact will also be widespread: “I’ve done the math on that and an organisation that is running with 600 to 700 servers, with a data centre PUE
of 2, would hit that threshold. So would a company with 6000 to 7000 desktops running 24×7.”

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