Tuesday Aug 15, 2006

PG&E Rebate Recap

It was a crazy day. So much interest in the PG&E rebate, that I haven't had a chance to finish my blog post about it. As a result, Jonathan and Tim both beat me to the punch.

I won't rehash the basic coverage here, but want to instead focus on a few points that weren't as widely covered:

  1. Kudos to PG&E. We've built some great servers, but they've put their money where their mouth is and are giving customers $$ to save energy.
  2. We definitely want to talk to other energy providers about doing something similar. I've gotten a number of questions from customers asking about availability of similar programs with their utility, so there's definitely customer interest out there. Send me an email and lets talk about what we can do.
  3. If you're going to use these servers in the PG&E area, definitely take them up on it! If you're in another part of the country or the world, there's still big savings to be had. The reason there's a rebate is that all of the customers PG&E looked at had significant energy savings. The one I'm most familiar with expects to save over $800/year in direct energy costs, and an additional $200+ in air conditioning for a total savings of over $1000/year. I've seen other cases (outside of our work with PG&E) where the savings were over $2500/year compared to the energy costs pre-ugrade! So no matter where you are, take a look at these servers and what the

Space, power, cooling and budget are the big constraints in any datacenter. Take a look at what our servers can do to help you out with your overconstrained situation!

Monday Jun 19, 2006

Old King Coal

We don't think much about coal. Maybe you'll hear about a mining accident, or you'll see a strip mine from the road or the window seat of an airplane. Maybe you'll visit a historical building in the US and you'll see the remnants of a time when people lived with coal as part of their everyday life -- had it delivered, stored it somewhere, and shoveled it into furnaces and stoves.

So for many of us, coal is lurking somewhere in the background, or may be even relegated to a thing of the past. But I'm using coal power right now, and there's a better than 90% chance that, as you read this, you are too. That's because coal is still the staple of electricity generation for much of the world, and you're going to start hearing more and more about it.

Some factoids:

  • In the US, coal generates about 49% of our electricity
  • The cost of coal is 1/4 of oil or gas per BTU generated by burning it
  • We've got coal to burn, as they say, enough to last over 250 years based on projections and the stuff we know about right now
  • Electricity production from coal is still a dirty task, generating twice as much CO2 as gas and 50% more than oil per unit of energy produced
  • China is adding coal capacity like crazy, adding more in 2005 than the rest of the world combined
  • Worldwide electricity usage is projected to double in the next 25, meaning that unless other sources come on line quickly, we'll be more reliant on coal than ever

There's some very interesting stuff in the works to make coal burn cleaner, which is seeming like it may be critical for us as a capability. The question will be how much we're willing to pay extra for "clean coal" electricity than the current stuff we get. For those of us involved in data centers, that may be an important question, indeed.

Friday Jun 02, 2006

Bike to JavaOne

Lance jersey giveawayWe did one of those simple-but-effective activities at JavaOne. Working with the San Francisco Bike Coalition we provided free, secure bike parking at the Mosconne Center for each day of JavaOne.

Was it effective? We got a few dozen bikes each day, but it added up to some goodness. Total CO2 savings were in the multiple ton range, assuming those folks would have driven if they hadn't rode. We'll make it happen again next year, and I want to hit the 20-ton savings mark.

Congrats to the team!

The big take away for me was the effectiveness given the scale. A small number bike2j1-3.jpgof energetic folks made this happen, and even those who didn't bike got some eco-responsibility reminders. Last week Thomas Friedman said that his hopes are lifted by the "million Manhattan projects" that are tackling our energy challenges. We need those million, but we also need the billion smaller projects that don't warrant the Manhattan analogy.

(sorry for the picture formatting on this. I seem to be conflicting with the css of the built-in themes. Hopefully I'll get this fixed up soon. -dd)

Monday May 22, 2006

Cost of Shipping

Some stats on the cost of shipping to get the juices flowing. These are from the book "Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and a personal hero. "From raw materials it costs 110,000 BTUs to make a Patgonia shirt. Shipping it airfreight from Ventura, CA to a store in Boston costs 50,000 BTUs." And generically, cost to ship per ton: Rail or boat: 400 BTUs per ton per mile Truck: 3,300 BTUs per ton per mile Air cargo: 21,760 BTUs per ton per mile So, whenever you can, take advantage of cheaper shipping methods. You'll save some money and do something for the environment as well!
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