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    Google Electric Company is a popular concept, but most are missing energy storage as the strategy

    I am having fun writing ideas on the GreenM3 blog.  There is so much going on now in the Green area and data centers, I can’t keep up with all the news. One of the latest news stories is Google filing with FERC for energy company status for Google Energy, creating a Google Electric company.

    Google Energy


    I’ve been watching the news to see if there is any particular insightful comments.  I wrote about the concept of Google Electric company in Nov 28, 2007.  Yes, 2 years ago.

    Nov 28, 2007

    Google Electric Company - Core Competency?

    Larry Dignan on

    Wrote a blog about the issue of Google getting into the energy business. This somehow seems like it is in Google's DNA when faced with make vs buy, they favor make.  They've done this with their OS and Servers they run their platform on.  Now, they are extending out to make their own electricity.

    Google News does a good job of showing the various discussions.


    I have a few friends who work at Google and it easy to run thought experiments of what is not being discussed.

    Thought experiments are devices of the imagination used to investigate the nature of things. We need only list a few of the well-known thought experiments to be reminded of their enormous influence and importance in the sciences: Newton's bucket, Maxwell's demon, Einstein's elevator, Heisenberg's gamma-ray microscope, Schrödinger's cat. The same can be said for their importance in philosophy. Much of ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind is based firmly on the results of thought experiments.

    What I think Google has seen is energy storage from renewable energy sources – PV, Solar, and wind is essential.  I joked and questioned Google as an electric company 2 years ago, but a lot has happened in two years, and it makes sense from one point of view that Google' learn to store information as it stores information (indexing the web) and delivers higher value information when users need it.  To do this with electricity, Google needs to be able to buy and sell electricity.

    As the largest consumer of data center electricity in the world, except for the US Fed Gov’t, Google is in a unique situation to use information to deliver higher value electricity. 

    Also, Google Energy’s expertise as a power company will allow it to figure out how to lower its energy costs and carbon impact over the long run.  This is a not a new concept and has been used by industries like pulp and paper mills with their own power generation and water supplies.  Which fits in Google buying the pulp and paper mil in Finland.

    Click to read more ...


    Missouri business leaders support development of data center tax incentives in the state

    DataCenterKnowledge wrote on the Politics in data centers in NY, TX, and MO.

    The Politics of Data Centers: NY, Texas, Missouri

    January 6th, 2010 : Rich Miller

    In recent years we’ve seen data centers become embroiled in state politics on topics such as whether to build new state data centers to manage citizens’ tax and benefit issues, where to put those data centers, who to hire to operate them, and whether to offer tax incentives to establish a state as a destination for development. This week we’ve data center make headlines in several states.

    Missouri caught my attention as I have been there a few times meeting with business leaders.  Rich Miller goes on regarding Missouri.

    Missouri: The state General Assembly in Missouri hopes to consider targeted tax incentives that will help the state attract more data center projects. Business groups, including the Missouri Coalition for Data Centers, hope to build upon a cluster of enterprise disaster recovery data centers in the Kansas City, and boost interest in the development of the state’s abundant supply of limestone caves as data center facilities. Missouri is home to several existing underground data bunkers, including The Mountain Complex near Branson and the Springnet Underground in Springfield.

    The Missourinet article referenced by Rich has good points.

    Business leaders put data center incentives on legislative wish list

    by STEVE WALSH on JANUARY 3, 2010


    Among the many issues to be entertained during the 2010 session of the General Assembly, which begins on Wednesday at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, is one that would offer incentives in a bid to lure data centers to Missouri. The push for the legislation comes from what is known as the Missouri Coalition for Data Centers, which is made up of businesses and local economic development agencies.

    The argument is to classify data centers as information factories.

    “A data center, basically, is a warehouse for information storage,” said Tracy King, Director of Taxation and Fiscal Affairs with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a member of the Coalition. “You can kind of look at a data center as a manufacturer. Instead of manufacturing widgets data centers manufacture bits.”

    Why is designation as a manufacturer important? The manufacturing industry can already take advantage of state-sponsored incentives.

    “We’re offering those same exact incentives to the manufacturing industry right now,” said Ora Reynolds, President of Hunt Midwest Enterprises in Kansas City. “So, if you’re manufacturing widgets you get these incentives. If you’re manufacturing data you don’t. So, this is basically the same incentives that are already out there for an industry that’s been in the state for years and years and now we’re trying to bring a new industry in with similar incentives.”

    Why do this, because the rest of the surrounding states do which is why they have attracted the big data center companies.

    “Tax incentives at every one of our surrounding states are already in place,” said King. “For, let’s say a 100,000 square foot data center, they’re handicapped by about $15-million to do business in Missouri. So they’re not doing business in Missouri – they’re doing business in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma – who already have both tax exemptions in place and also some personal property tax exemptions or abatements.”

    Besides the Tax Director and business leaders, there is support in the House and Senate.

    Sponsors of data center incentives legislation have been found in both the House and Senate. Supporters acknowledge the proposal might face challenges during these tough budget times, but they insist that at the end of the day the state would benefit from such legislation.

    You can bet soon after Missouri extends manufacturing status to data centers, there will be an increase in data center activity in Missouri.

    Click to read more ...


    Are Washington State Taxes driving Data Center builders out of State?

    DataCenterKnowledge has a post on Sabey’s partnership to expand out of the State of Washington.

    Sabey Unveils Funding, Expansion Plans

    January 8th, 2010 : Rich Miller

    Rows of server racks inside the Sabey Corp. Intergate.Columbia data center complex in Wenatchee, Wash. 

    Rows of server racks inside the Sabey Corp. Intergate.Columbia data center complex in Wenatchee, Wash.

    Sabey Corporation has partnered with National Real Estate Advisors to form a new venture that will expand Sabey’s data center operations beyond its core market in the Pacific northwest, the companies said Thursday.

    The new company, Sabey DataCenter Properties, will include Sabey’s existing data center developments. NREA will have a minority equity interest and will invest $100 million, which will be used to support the current portfolio and finance growth in new markets.

    Where Sabey is going isn’t stated, but it’s not in the State of Washington.

    Sabey is not identifying any of the markets where it may eventually operate data centers. But the company has forged a strong track record in building energy-efficient facilities, and its expansion comes at a time of growing interest in data centers built to the highest efficiency standards.

    I’ve written on the past on the change in Washington State Sales Tax being applied to server equipment, and how Windows Azure servers were moved from Quincy, WA to San Antonio by Microsoft.

    Aug 05, 2009

    Washington State Sales Tax Drives Microsoft Windows Azure Servers to Texas

    Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNnet picked up news on Microsoft’s decision to remove USA- Northwest from a deployment choice for Windows Azure.

    Tax concerns to push Microsoft Azure cloud hosting out of Washington state

    Posted by Mary Jo Foley @ 11:55 am

    Microsoft is making preparations to move applications that developers are hosting on its Azure cloud infrastructure out of its Washington state datacenter, due to a change in the tax laws there.

    Microsoft warned customers testing their apps on the Azure test release about the planned change earlier this week. Microsoft is readying a migration tool to help testers with the move, company officials said.

    Cloud-computing and .Net expert Roger Jennings put together all the various reports and clues into a detailed August 5 post on his OakLeaf Systems blog.

    One of the factors that is influencing the data center migration out of the state of Washington are the taxes.  But, with a 2.6 billion budget gap, don’t expect the state to change its taxation.

    $2.6 billion gap in state budget prompts Dems to look at taxes

    As the Legislature starts work to close a $2.6 billion budget gap, key lawmakers say tax increases may be inevitable. Top Democrats have indicated they'll suspend or modify Initiative 960, which requires a two-thirds legislative majority or voter approval for tax increases.

    By Jim Brunner

    Seattle Times staff reporter

    PREV 1 of 2 NEXT

    Enlarge this photo


    OLYMPIA — As the Legislature starts work today to close a $2.6 billion budget gap, key lawmakers say tax increases may be inevitable.

    To clear the way, top Democrats have indicated they'll suspend or modify Initiative 960, which requires a two-thirds legislative majority or voter approval for tax increases.

    But which taxes would be raised and who would pay them is far from clear.

    Instead of a general tax increase — such as boosting the state sales tax — some top lawmakers are talking about more targeted approaches, such as extending the sales tax to candy, muffins and bottled water and increasing tobacco taxes.

    Click to read more ...


    Social Networking as a Strategic Advantage at University of Missouri, a future data center education Nexus

    I was in Columbia, Missouri in Dec 2009 to discuss data centers as the area is at the center of the US, and there is a shortage of data center inventory compared to other areas. I had a chance to meet the Provost of University of Missouri (Mizzou), Brian Foster, to discuss how GreenM3 could work with Mizzou on data center innovation.  The meeting turned out to be one of my best meetings in 2009. 

    Why was Brian Foster so interesting? One of the concepts we discussed is the social networking effect going on in the data center industry and how Mizzou could participate as an educational institution and a nexus for data center innovation.  An example of the nexus potential is there are five high voltage power grids converging on a site in Columbia which allows interesting experiments for power use by data centers, power generation from renewable energy, and energy storage.

    image Photo of Brian Foster

    Well, it turns out Brian’s Ph.D is in Anthropology and he has studied for many years the social networking effect.

    The scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans.

    One of the ideas Brian discussed was Mizzou Advantage.  Here is an introduction.

    The strategic initiatives will not become new “centers,” “institutes,” or similar units. Rather they will be networks of collaborators in a wide range of activities: research grants, conferences and other academic events, clinical operations, public education, economic development, academic programs, and large scale clinical trials, development of specialized facilities, to name a few possibilities. It is likely that the network structure will morph continuously as projects come and go, as individuals’ interests shift, as organizations’ agendas change, and as environmental conditions evolve—e.g., funding potential, regulatory environment, and political support. Each initiative must have strong leadership—a senior faculty member who will facilitate the network relationships, maintain contact with funding sources, provide a compelling public voice for the initiative, work with MU departments in hiring faculty contributors, and develop research facilities (e.g., labs, studios). In short, the leader of each initiative will bring together the people and other resources to make the initiative effective.

    Brian Foster’s vision has five areas of focus that will follow the structure described in the previous paragraph.

    1. Food for the Future
    2. New Media
    3. One Health, One Medicine
    4. Sustainable Energy
    5. Understanding and managing disruptive and transformational technologies.

    Before I drill into the area of interest for GreenM3 let me point to the history of the Strategic Advantages project.

    In the current political and economic environment it is clear that universities must have a strategic plan that provides the "roadmap" for disciplined allocation of resources over a long period of time to build the requisite infrastructure and other elements of program distinction. To achieve stature, the University must identify a carefully defined set of "strategic advantages" which provide the points of reference for positioning the institution uniquely in the world of higher education. Thus, unique facilities, outstanding faculty, environmental assets, potential partners, and other potential university resources must lead us to define a set of areas in which we will achieve high stature. The areas must be chosen such that MU is positioned well in the competitive environment. These identified strategic advantages will become key elements for the strategic plan, much like the mission statement, values, and other foundational MU principles.

    The first area of interest is Sustainable Energy.

    • MU has many assets in the area of sustainable energy, both research and educational. The MU reactor is a strong asset for research and training in the nuclear energy (though it is currently underdeveloped in the energy area), and biofuels is an area of considerable research capacity and of local agribusiness interest.
    • The sustainable energy initiative intersects with many other educational, research, economic development, and service programs including environmental sciences, nuclear science and engineering, public policy, economics, business, architectural studies, journalism and public information/education, transportation, basic sciences (chemistry, physics, biological sciences, geological sciences), agriculture, history, psychological and cultural studies, agricultural economics, and rural sociology.
    • Energy may be the single most promising area for federal funding over the next decade.

    The second area is disruptive technologies.

    • MU’s strategic initiatives all are in areas in which existing technologies and all that is based on them are fundamentally changing: media, agribusiness, biomedical sciences, and energy. These changes are both transformational (opening stunning new opportunities) and disruptive (destroying existing businesses, jobs, and other ways of doing things). Implications of these dramatic changes need to be understood for the benefit of policy, business, and socio-cultural adaptation to changing times.
    • This topic touches on virtually every part of the university, including business, legal, policy, economic, ethical, health, education, entertainment, arts, history, environment, standard of living, quality of life, climate, and transportation. MU’s strategic initiatives, which are based on Missouri’s position in these areas, provide a virtual laboratory for studying four key areas of disruptive and transformational technologies. Understanding these dynamics would position Missouri and the U.S. favorably in the rapidly evolving world economic, political, business, and cultural environment.

    New Media is appealing to drive change in the industry.

    • Builds on MU’s world-class Journalism, including the Reynolds Institute, which does research on the rapidly changing media world; it also builds on Engineering and other work on digital technologies, on Communication Studies, and on many other disciplines that touch on media production and/or business models.
    • This thrust intersects with nearly every college in the University, including Business (studies of the rapidly changing business model), applied ethics, public policy, graphic design, digital arts, creative writing, and many subject-matter areas (e.g., arts, athletics, politics, social issues, economics and business, health, agriculture, environment, public policy, religion, and science)

    Here is a video that provides background for the development of the initiative with Brian and his faculty discussing the ideas more.

    MU Strategic Advantages Open Forum, March 2, 2009 - Link to video!

    As the new year develops, I’ll be writing more on the opportunities for the Mizzou Advantage.

    Click to read more ...


    Making communication network 1,000 times more energy efficient, Green Touch

    Green Touch is a new consortium announced today.  cnet news has a post.

    Industry group to apply green touch to telecom

    by Lance Whitney

    A new industry group is hoping that the same amount of energy now used to power the Internet and other global networks for one day will eventually power them for three years.

    Unveiled by its organizer Bell Labs on Monday, the global consortium, dubbed Green Touch, has set a challenging agenda for itself--to plan and demonstrate the necessary technologies to make today's networks 1,000 times more energy efficient than they are today. The group's deadline is 2015, giving it just five years in which to determine and show how to dramatically slash the carbon emissions from all global networks.

    The group says its agenda is fueled by two issues: 1) the world's networks are eating up more energy at a faster pace as we increasingly demand more from them; and 2) research has shown that today's networks use more energy than they need to. If left unchecked, the industry's energy usage is projected to double over the next 10 years. Yet based on its own analysis, Bell Labs believes our global networks can actually be 10,000 times more efficient than they are now.

    Here is a Green Touch video.

    The Green Touch web site is here.

    Green Touch ™

    Global Vision

    Green Touch is a consortium of leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, academic and non-governmental research experts dedicated to fundamentally transforming communications and data networks, including the Internet, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of ICT devices, platforms and networks.

    Global Mission

    By 2015, our goal is to deliver the architecture, specifications and roadmap — and demonstrate key components — needed to reduce energy consumption per user by a factor of 1000 from current levels.

    Green Touch members and the global community will benefit from:

    • Dramatic reductions in energy consumption, carbon footprint and operating cost
    • Nothing less than the reinvention of today’s communications networks
    • Unprecedented collaboration between leading experts from around the world
    • Application of fundamental research in exciting new areas
    • Opportunities to bring innovative new ideas, products and solutions to market

    The vision of the work is based on Shannon’s law.

    According to Shannon’s theory, network users could consume as little as 1 milliwatt each. That’s 25,000 times less than the 25 watts of energy consumed by the average network user today. Guided by Shannon’s beacon, scientists and engineers at Bell Labs are striving to develop new approaches to network design that will greatly reduce energy consumption and, in so doing, contribute to the fight against climate change.

    Here is a video for Shannon’s law.

    The business side of Green Touch is most likely driven by the upgrading of existing equipment.  See the list of members for who benefits from Green Touch’s ideas.

  • AT&T
  • Bell Labs
  • China Mobile
  • CEA-LETI Applied Research Institute for Microelectronics
  • Freescale Semiconductor
  • Foundation for Mobile Communications
  • IMEC
  • The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA)
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Research Laboratory for Electronics (RLE)
  • Portugal Telecom
  • Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT)
  • Stanford University’s Wireless Systems Lab (WSL)
  • Swisscom
  • Telefonica
  • University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES)
  • Click to read more ...