US Provides £30m Of Green Data Centre Grants

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

HP, IBM and Yahoo were among the recipients of grants from the US Department of Energy for projects aimed at making data centres more energy efficient

The US Department of Energy is handing out $47 million (£29m) in grants to projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from data centres and other IT facilities.

The grants, announced on 6 Jan, will be distributed among 14 private projects around the country, and will be matched by $70 million (£44m) in private industry donations, according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“If you look at how energy is used in IT … at the component level, at the rack level, [it’s important] to make them more energy efficient,” Chu said during a conference call with reporters. “It’s essentially in all sectors of the IT industry. There are great gains to be had.”

The $47 million are part of the federal ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), and speak to the Obama administration’s desire to grow the use of more energy efficient technology and to grow jobs in more environmentally friendly industries.

Chu said the work being done in these 14 projects, as well as in other sectors of the IT industry, will not only lead to data centres consuming less energy and spending less money, but also could help fuel job growth.

Currently, data centres account for 3 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States—or about 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually—and at the current rate of data center growth and energy consumption, could surpass the airline industry as the fourth largest generator of greenhouse gases in the country, said Brad Wurtz, president and CEO of Power Assure, a power management solutions provider for data centres and a recipient of $5 million in DOE grant money.

“Our goal is to double the energy efficiency in data centres within five years,” Wurtz said during the press conference.

In addition, Chu said, the projected growth in the number of new data centres in the United States will require two new large power plants per year just to keep pace with anticipated power demand.

The ARRA money is going to projects that address at least on of three areas, including making the core data centre and telecommunications components—such as servers and networking devices—more energy efficient and developing software that will optimise energy use by the devices.

In addition, the projects also are looking at the power supply chain to help reduce power loss and heat dissipation as electricity moves through the IT components, and at ways to improve the methods and technologies used to cool the systems.

Power Assure sells power monitoring and management software for data centres. Hewlett-Packard received $7.4 billion, the third most allocated to a company. Doug Oathout, vice president of converged infrastructure at HP, also was at the press conference and said HP’s work touches on not only power supplies but also cooling technologies.

Oathout said that HP’s technologies can help businesses reduce power consumption in their data centers by as much as 40 percent, which not only helps cut costs, but also extends the life of a data center and decreases the need for new facilities.

Yahoo received the most grant money, at $9.9 million, followed by SeaMicro, a company currently in stealth mode that is focused on data center power, which received $9.3 million.

Columbia University and Edison Materials Technology Center each received $2.8 million, and IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center received two grants totaling $3.3 million. Alcatel-Lucent received $1.8 million, and Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs got $300,000.

Others receving money were California Institute of Technology, Lineage Power, BAE Systems and Federspiel Controls.