Our coverage of ICT4D - information and communications technology for development - has been tracking the deployment of renewable-powered mobile base stations as an alternative to diesel power in remote areas. There are now tens of thousands of these sites, primarily in Asia. One player in this space, Indian telecom equipment manufacturer Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) , is bringing this technology to rural America. This is a great example of global cross-fertilization within ICT4D.
We've noted that there has been too little focus on Green ICT in American higher education. This does not mean that colleges and universities in American and around the global aren't making any progress at all - you can click on the 'education' tag above to see examples. We regularly add updates about global higher education in this post -- we recently featured a green ICT resource for UK institutions and took a look at Green ICT in The Netherlands.
ICT company sites continue to be well-represented among the Fortune 500 locations participating in the EPA Green Power Partnership as of July 2014.
We first noted the potential of "energy harvesting" to power devices without conventional batteries or grid connections three years ago. 2013 research shows the "Ambient Energy Harvesters" (AEH) market now growing at a CAGR of 17%. Some wearable tech incorporates AEH and AEH can mitigate the environmental impact of the Internet of Things (IoT). These applications, which could significantly reduce IoT's battery e-waste stream, will likely accelerate the market.
We've counted over 17 billion pieces of e-gear attached to the global ICT infrastructure. The 'Internet of Things' (IoT) will dramatically increase this number by the end of the decade. Can technology keep up with the energy and resource demands?
We are fans of wind energy - our office and in-house ICT gear are 100% powered by wind-generated electricity purchased form our local utility. We are seeing more wind-powered ICT emerge around the world - the latest is the news that Microsoft has purchased the entire outputs of two wind farms.
We wrote in 2012 about the ecoATM, "…an automated self-serve kiosk system that uses patented, advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics, and artificial intelligence to evaluate and buy-back used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit." In 2013, we noted the EcoATM concept had been accused of facilitating the theft of e-devices. Now, we note ecoATM appears to be thriving and has received an international sustainability award.
The Bloom Energy Server is a "distributed power generator" that uses fuel cells to convert air and natural gas into electricity. We wrote in 2010 that the 'Bloom Boxes' are "already being used by ICT companies, but not for for mission-critical ICT applications." By mid-2012 we could report that they are used for applications ranging from television to telecom. We've updated this post with a video about e-Bay's Utah datacenter.
We are constantly on the lookout for ICT-intensive communities who appear under-engaged in global Green ICT awareness. More active participation from these communities could do much to advance ICT sustainability. We identified American higher education and global ICT4D advocates as two communities where more effective embrace of Green ICT has significant potential. Console gamers comprise another such community. This is important because research firm IHS has marked game consoles for production growth in 2014.
We launched Vertatique with the statistic that data centers consumes ~2% of global electricity production. We now know that the globe's broader ICT energy footprint is ~8%, the majority of which is NOT from data centers. The contribution of communications, driven by explosion of cloud computing and mobile devices, has helped drive the number higher. Here are the facts and figures.