We've been following the issue of conflict minerals in our e-devices for more than five years. Our readers will know that cassiterite, the mineral ore form of tin, is a conflict mineral when mined in Central Africa. It turns out that much more tin - over a third of the world's consumption - is mined in Indonesia. Tin extraction there is not driven by conflict, but is still a brutal business for the miners and takes a toll on the environment.
We've noted a number of studies that suggest moving to the cloud is the greener solution for most organizations' ICT needs. That's great for client companies, but what about the cloud provider? Companies striving to reduce their C02e footprints while providing cloud services face a challenge: they end up internalizing the very emissions their customers are externalizing. Business software and services provider SAP is facing that challenge. Here is what the company plans to about it.
This is solar-powered base station on top of a mountain in Lapland (Finland).
Remote ICT infrastructures are embracing renewable energy for everything from earthquake mitigation in Japan. CO2e reduction in India to . Fuel/power costs appear to have gone down since 2009 for off-grid mobile operations, but are still significant. Asia leads world in current renewable base stations and in growth potential. One operator - Indus Towers - now has 20,000 zero-diesel sites.
We've developed and refined our definition of Green ICT over the years, but it is always useful to learn from others. SITA-Research Center is a European initiative "to encourage the collaboration of IT scientists world wide to develop Sustainable Information Technologies and Applications...we focus on simple principles which sustainable IT solutions should meet: Longevity - Efficiency - Refinability - Scalability." How do these four concepts map into our Green ICT perspective?
Assessing the carbon footprint of ITC equipment is a critical part of Green ICT. Much of a piece of gear's footprint comes from "embodied" carbon - the carbon released during is creation and transportation, before the user ever powers it up. It turns out that this has been true since the Iron Age.
Is the shipment of used ICT to developing areas an example of environmental and economic sustainability by extending equipment lifecycles and making tech available to those who cannot pay market prices for new gear? Or is it a patronizing position that suggests older tech is 'good enough' for some people and that exacerbates these regions' e-waste problems. This issues has similarities to one from 35 years ago.
The Triple Bottom Line (3BL) concept links three aspects of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. It is sometimes easy to lose track of economic sustainability in our enthusiasm for the other two. The failure of a Euro/African project bringing solar-based ICT to Gambia is a real-world reminder.
The convergence of multiple lines of Green ICT inquiry is a sign of Green ICT progress. We have covered the growing use of fuel cells to power ICT facilities and the advancement of DC distribution inside the data center. A recent demonstration brings these two concepts together to improve energy efficiency and reliability.
Microgrids - small electricity generation and distribution networks - are becoming an increasingly common way to support ICT in remote areas. What distinguish a true remote ICT microgrid from a locally-powered remote piece of ICT gear like a base station? A microgrid is an integrated network consisting of one or more power generating systems, storage, control electronics and a diverse load. Imagine interconnected solar PV and with diesel generation backup powering not only that base station but also a community charging station for phones and tablets and a school's wireless router. To the extent that ICT microgrids support a significant proportion of renewable generation, they contribute to Green ICT and help bring urgently-needed sustainability to ICT4D. Here is a look at the big picture. Future updates will include implementations.