back to article Want to go green like Apple, but don't have billions in the bank?

How much energy is required to power the ever-expanding online world? With data centres the factories of the 21st Century, this may be a conundrum high on the environmentalist’s agenda, but what about those building the new Satanic mills? Last year, Greenpeace estimated that the aggregate electricity demand of the cloud ( …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. joshimitsu

      With some exceptions

      We get some power from tidal: powered by lunar gravity, and some geothermal: powered by Earth's hot core.

    2. Toltec

      "Technically, all of our energy ultimately comes from the sun, (excluding the absolutely miniscule amount from other stars)."

      Tidal mainly comes from the Moon and then there is Nuclear and Geothermal, though you could argue that without the Sun there would be no solar system etc.

      ETA- Beaten to it...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'll go one better...

      Ultimately all of our energy comes from nuclear reactions.

      The sun is one big nuclear reactor, as are the other stars. The heat in the earth's core comes from gravity, which comes from mass, which (E=MC^2) comes from old stars going bang. Tides are also an effect of gravity. Ocean waves are an effect of wind, which is due to thermal differences, due to heating from the sun.

    4. Ammaross Danan


      You're just assuming all energy (such as bio-burning) originated with something that grew from the sun. You're forgetting chemical-based energy (exothermic reactive metals for instance).

  2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Low density data center

    For many businesses the data center does not need to be packed like sardines. Using a larger building for the equipment can allow unchilled air cooling. If the power density is low enough then fan cooling alone can suffice. (Obviously this does not work for most mega data centers but for the size of data center in 5000 employee and smaller companies this can work.)

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Low density data center

      Yes but then you have to ensure the server room is locked and not easy to break into, large vents create an easy way in which the insurance companies don't like.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Go one better

    "Something simple like changing the lightbulbs from fluorescent tubes to LEDs can make a noticeable difference when, in the case of 4D-DC, you have 148 to deal with. In that situation it halved the cost of lighting and reduced the heat load created."

    Why have lights on at all?

    You only need them on when you are working in there. Even then only light the area you are in.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Go one better

      "Why have lights on at all?

      You only need them on when you are working in there. Even then only light the area you are in."

      I'm glad our one of our buildings already has a lighting system that powers the lights off after a few minutes. The motion detector turns them back on when the doors are opened.

      Another building uses rainwater to flush the toilets.

    2. Adam 1

      Re: Go one better

      Some back of the envelope calculations...

      148 x 100W fluorescent lights would draw 14800.

      Switching to LED would realistically drop them to 85W but let's pretend that the laboratory achieved lumens per watt could get us to 70W.

      This would save 4440W.

      If we assume an average draw of 850W per server, that is about the same power reduction as switching off 5.5 servers. In the scheme of things, that won't be a measurable blip on the building power usage.

      The only way I can see the savings becoming significant is that LEDs are dimmer friendly, so you could far more easily control the lighting to follow you as you walk around the building and be at very minimal levels elsewhere.

  4. dorsetknob
    Black Helicopters

    Apple = Green

    Green Apples are only going to give you Gut rot

    Apple Green Don't TAKE THE PISS

    when Apples new Equipment is not made to be repaired and is designed to be very expensive land fill in 5 to 10 years yeh that's Green Eco Policy at work

    Fan boys man the black copters Target in sight

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Apple = Green

      Repairability is not the only question you need to ask. In fact that you seem to equate the non-repairability of apple kit with landfill. One of these does not always follow on from the other.

      The other is,

      Is the device recyclable? Stuff that isn't recycleable may well end up in Landfill.

      In the case of a MacBook then the case is very re-cyclable because of the Aluminium used in its construction.

      If manufacturers don't make a statement of recycability for whatever bit of kit they are selling then IMHO they should.

      It would be nice if the likes of iFixit included this in their reports as well as repairablity.

      As it is Friday and it has been a long week I'm off for a few of these --->>>>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple = Green

        Lets not forget the precious, rare earth metals that *crApple use in their products, knowing full well they are destined to be landfill and consequently none of them reclaimed.

        *crApple are not the only ones guilty of this but they seem to bleat about how eco-friendly they are more than most...

        1. keithpeter Silver badge

          Client = upgradeable

          The fashion for thin client devices seems to preclude replaceability.

          Just wondering if laptops, as they become niche for those who produce stuff, and as Moore's law looks like it might be rolling over, will become more modular like desktops thus allowing upgrades on a basic screen/keyboard/battery shell? Standard x86 or Atom based logic boards allowing upgrades and swappable batteries and storage.

          PS: There is a unified history of electronic computing to be written from the standpoint of the engineering involved in getting rid of heat is there not?

  5. Dan Paul

    Temperature is not the only fallacy

    Cooling the entire data center space is the most expensive waste there is. Next is using too cold of a space setpoint. The key is heat removal.

    The current design of server racks and data centers does not accomodate the removal of heat from the building. If we had a design that allowed for fully enclosed racks and ducted cooling, the volume of air that had to be cooled could be cut by 50%. This could work with existing plenum floors with some modification to change the floor panels.

    Cool pressurized air enters at the bottom of the fully enclosed rack and blows though the equipment to exit at the top, where an exhaust duct brings hot air out of the building entirely or through a heat recovery system and returned to the space. No hot aisle/cold aisle needed.

    The cool air could be chilled by various methods or could be untempered outside air for free cooling. The only electrical costs for outside air are the cost of the design and the fan horsepower.

    As mentioned "Swamp Coolers" or Adiabatic Coolers are also having an impact as there is no need for refrigerant direct expansion (DX Cooling) or chillers, only pump and fan loads.

    Oh, and for the record, there is no better energy saving method than the "Off" switch.

    1. Toltec

      Re: Temperature is not the only fallacy

      The plenum size can be important in itself as it helps damp out temperature swings, too small a volume and you can get the fans in the AHUs short cycling, which is not good for drive belts etc. Related is how you are going to manage to get cold air to the top of a rack if the feed is at the bottom, if you need to use higher underfloor pressures to acheive it you are going to to drive AHU fans harder to achieve this.

      If you vent hot air straight to the outside you need to bring air in, this air may need cleaning and drying so this idea is not quite as free as it seems.

  6. joshimitsu

    What about heat reuse

    Can't the heat be used power a small steam turbine generator instead of venting it all out?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: What about heat reuse

      Most stuff wont get hot enough to boil water. A well designed liquid cooling system that uses pure convection could be used to recover some energy but it would probably not be worthwhile.

      Heat pumps might be an idea. But even 40C water could be fed into solar panels for a boost for water and space heating purposes - I'd love a data centre next to me so I could use the heat in winter for my pollytunnels.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What about heat reuse

        "I'd love a data centre next to me so I could use the heat in winter for my pollytunnels."

        Surely, you place your polytunnels on the datacenter roof...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all a bit mowing the green and ignoring the rough

    There's been leaps forward with the DC mechanicals in the last decade. But once PUE gets to values like 1.07, there's really not much else to be done. Server utilisation is where the future gains are going to be made, but that's more a function of the code you run....

  8. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Intermittent data centres

    <It is possible to power your data centre partly or completely by green power without having to make a massive investment.>

    Not without backup plant to run it when the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine.

    <Hosting provider Memset has, for example, opened a new facility on Dunsfold Park in Surrey – a business park powered entirely by green energy, which gets on average 37 per cent of its power from the sun, delivered via the grid.>

    Bollocks. Double bollocks in fact.

    First, this a patently untrue statement unless they have their own "personal" grid connected only to renewable sources.

    Otherwise they're just pulling power from the grid in whatever mix happens to be co-generating at any given moment. Which leads into the second "bollocks". Even if the provider billing them has dedicated connection to solar generation with a nameplate capacity totalling 37% of the power used by the business park, the business park will not be supplied by 37% solar power at any time, ever.

    They are connected to the grid like everyone else. Whoever bills them has fed them some bullshit to make them believe that all of the power they use will come from "green" sources, and they swallowed it saying "please, Sir, may I have some more?"

    1. SImon Hobson

      Re: Intermittent data centres

      > Otherwise they're just pulling power from the grid in whatever mix happens to be co-generating at any given moment.

      Have an upvote for that statement of inconvenient (to the greenies) fact.

      As you say, there is no such thing as a "green supply" - the electrons come from whatever generating plant is actually working at the time.

      But more importantly, even if the renewable supply were connected directly to the data centre, it's still not true to say the supply is green. Every kilowatt of green power used by the datacentre is a kilowatt of "green power" not available to the grid. Therefore, it means "something else" needs to turn up the wick to supply that kilowatt of power to someone else.

      So given that nuclear is generally running flat out, using a kilowatt of "green power" in the datacentre means that a coal or gas power station needs to open the tap a bit. In extreme, it means some diesel generator fires up - at times, the UK actually runs diesel generators to meet peak demand.

      So yes, the claims about "green power" are just all out and deliberate bollocks. "Greenwash" is a good term for it.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Lapun Mankimasta

    Frankly, putting increasing efficiency together with using renewables when and where possible is the long-term solution.

    That said, how many companies building motherboards and/or cases for rackable servers have engineers who understand elementary aerodynamics? Elementary thermodynamics? Cold aisle plus hot aisle, so the air and the heat differential does more work than the fans, would seem to be elementary. Even better if the cases and the building is designed to speed cold air through the hot parts - someone called Bernoulli and something called venturi IIRC - look it up. That way you can run the hot parts as hot as you like. I think they call that a static ram jet.

  11. Alan Denman

    Want to go green like Apple ?

    You need a weird sense of logic to declare glue cement lover Apple, green.

    That same algebraic logic tells us that Algae is also green.

    Author, how about throwing it all away and starting again ?

  12. imanidiot Silver badge

    Green is not the incentive here

    Green is the salad dressing bollocks used for marketing. The incentive for the data center is decreasing the utility bill. And that should be all the incentive they need.

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