Keeping the lights on part 2: How do we optimize our energy usage?
The world’s energy supply is in a state of flux. Australian coal is being bought up by China faster than it can be mined, Europe is coming to terms with Russian gas being shut off, and the US is grappling with how to produce more energy whilst meeting green targets and keeping people in mining areas employed.
It’s a tough balancing act. In the last episode we looked at how to produce more energy. But how do we make the most of the energy we already have? This time, we’ll be talking to experts and organizations using tech to reduce our consumption and get us all a little greener without resorting to drastic societal change - and save our organizations money at the same time. The focus, for this episode, is on how we transform the IT industry, and how we transform domestic usage.
We start off by meeting HPE's John Frey, Chief Technologist for Sustainable Transformation. He explains that, in terms of the IT industry, there's sometimes a disconnect or lack of awareness from customers around the power-saving technologies that are put into the devices we use, from laptops to servers. There's a habit in large organizations of overriding or deleting manufacturer-built controls which could save tens of thousands of kilowatt-hours per year, and the first step in transforming our energy usage as an industry is simply to turn them back on. He also argues that the way we code could be a game changer - with more efficient languages and processes drastically reducing the amount of compute required to run them - by up to 90% in some cases.
Joe Baguely agrees. He's the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Europe, the Middle Eastern Africa at VMware, a provider of (among other things) virtualisation solutions (in a siilar manner to HPE Greenlake) which allow for far more data and functionality to be run on less hardware, drastically increasing energy efficiency. VMWare is also leading the charge in local power generation and sourcing their electricity from renewable or green suppliers.
Joe and John also argue that it's imperative that IT departments actually understand the cost of their energy usage, which has traditionally been the responsibility of buildings management or operations teams. Only with the advent of Cloud computing have IT departments become responsible for their own budgets, and that has drastically improved awareness of just how energy-intensive our organizations' IT infrastructure can be.
Finally, on the domestic side, we meet Devrim Celal, CEO of KrakenFlex, part of the Octopus Energy Group. Devrim points out that in a world of renewables, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make energy when we want it, so a new era of smart co-operation is needed to balance the grid and avoid wasting energy – or causing shortages at peak times. They are pioneering smart technology which pairs our energy-intensive devices, generators, and storage facilities (think electric vehicles and wind turbines) to ensure that the hungriest consumers aren’t using electricity at the most inefficient time, spreading the load through the day by telling the EV, for example, when to charge.
They are also pioneering ‘gamifying’ our energy use, to encourage consumers to care about how much they use, and their role in the wider, national picture.