Google and Cisco have the resources--and the head start--to lead the IT sector in energy management
The IT leaders have re-entered your home and business in a whole new way. Companies like Google and Cisco are providing the tools to help consumers and businesses monitor and manage their energy use to reduce carbon emissions.
So, how did this trend come about? And what does it mean for energy consumption in the U.S. and throughout the world?
The IT sector and energy management
Let’s start at the beginning. A report published in 2008 by The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) called SMART 2020 (pdf) provided a clear picture as to how the IT sector has a major role to play in reducing energy use, and as a result, reducing carbon emissions. This report is key in understanding the global business opportunity of the IT sector in transforming energy use and carbon mitigation.
The report had two major components; it quantified the direct emissions from IT products and services based on expected growth in the sector and it quantified where IT could “enable significant reductions of emissions” in terms of carbon emissions and cost savings.
One of the conclusions of the report was to identify (no real surprise) that the IT sector had a major role to play in improving energy efficiency in power transmission and distribution (T&D) in buildings and factories that demand power and in the use of transportation to deliver goods.
The GeSI report estimates that the entire IT sector could reduce approximately 7.8 gigatons of CO2 of emissions savings by 2020 or about 15 percent of emissions project by 2020.
So, the IT sector has a significant role to play in reducing energy use and carbon emissions, presenting an enormous business opportunity. Companies such as Google, Cisco and others are now focused on smart grid and smart buildings; your home and your office. Smart grid and smart buildings refer to the ability to monitor energy use and adjust based upon real time data, a two way exchange of energy information. For now, Google is focused on home energy management and Cisco on commercial energy management. However, considering the blurring of market boundaries, this may separation may change over time.
The new energy management products
The two most interesting developments currently are from Google and Cisco (full disclosure, Cisco is a client of DOMANI). Google has essentially bypassed the need for a smart meter by partnering with Energy Inc. to provide a home energy meter, which works with Google’s energy management software. The Google PowerMeter and Energy Inc.’s TED 5000 (The Energy Detective) monitor energy use from a web browser or smart phone. The information from the system includes real time energy use and approximate cost, trends and comparisons to previous use.
Google is “everywhere” and now may become your trusted source for home energy management, in particular with Android entering the Smartphone market.
Now let’s take a look at Cisco and their EnergyWise product (Cisco also has an Energywise calculator to quantify projected performance). According to Cisco, EnergyWise can:
- Monitor the power of all Cisco network-connected devices, from Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices to IP-enabled building controllers;
- Report aggregated power consumption to provide a clearer understanding of an organization's power-consumption habits;
- Optimize overall power usage based on user-created policies across the entire corporate infrastructure;
- Provide reports of current power conditions and suggest potential changes and;
- Regulate companywide energy consumption using scalable domain approach which brings IT and facility networks together.
Just like Google, Cisco is using the Internet to monitor and manage energy use.
We are quickly moving towards the ability to effectively manage energy use (and reduce carbon emissions) through the web or your smart phone (we still have a way to go before it is mainstream).
What will be next? Managing water resources (which we are also notoriously good at wasting)? Perhaps this is not very far off in the future.