Wired Green: The realignment of sustainable ICT

Updated 19 November 2012
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Wired Green: The realignment of sustainable ICT

The rapid economic development seen within the Gulf over recent years has been mirrored by a historic surge in more advanced ICT infrastructure connecting people and businesses across the region. The cost of powering these information highways has however, proven to be no small feat, with the ICT sector now emerging as one of the most important forefronts where a region-wide overhaul of sustainable and eco-friendly infrastructure can be realized.
The fact is that services like broadband Internet, office data management, and Web 2.0 tools constitute a massive amount of information exchange every minute of every day. In countries such as UAE & KSA, large-scale infrastructure deployments led by new fiber networks and wireless 4G technologies have further resulted in a deluge of information that threatens to submerge service providers and customers in the red. Energy costs are one of the primary feeders of this crimson tide. For businesses and consumers alike, these can result in more frequent network delays, higher prices for voice and data connectivity, and a greater environmental toll on local communities.
According to industry authorities, electricity consumption and carbon emissions related to ICT activities account for close to 6 percent and 2 percent of the aggregate worldwide. This becomes particularly worrisome as groups like the International Energy Agency have predicted a dramatic energy surge within the GCC, where demand for electrical power alone is expected to triple over the next 25 years.
Yet what decisions need to be taken today by service providers to reduce their networks’ power consumption and operating costs? What are the realistic benefits, and how can ICT be used to accrue savings in other sectors such as transportation, manufacturing, and so on?
The ICT Carbon Footprint
While ICTs can support local governments and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, the responsibility of tech leaders goes far beyond the greening of other enterprises. The first step must start internally.
Global consultants Gartner have estimated that ICTs account for roughly 2 percent of all global carbon emissions, with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) echoing the contribution of ICTs to “climate change” at roughly 2 percent. Some of the main contributors within the sector’s portfolio include the energy requirements of ultra-fast servers, massive data centers, and telecom base stations needed for wireless communications. Complex telecommunication networks being rolled out today also require an “always on” system of PCs, equipment cooling devices, modems and ubiquitous mobile devices. It’s a lot of energy to say the least.
All of this translates to more storage and processing, which in turn means higher operating costs. The good news is that recent technology innovations allow local businesses from literally any vertical to make more efficient use of ICTs by doing more with less.
Vertical
Lessons
According to the report SMART 2020 published by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), ICTs will enable other sectors of the society to achieve significant emissions reductions over the next decade, helping businesses avoid an estimated 15 percent of predicted total global emissions - or five times ICT’s own footprint. Recent product updates have also led to declining energy consumption per ICT unit, with telecom operators alone now able to save more than 50 percent on their previous energy demand.
Regardless of the sector or size of the enterprise, we have seen three opportunities surge to the top of regional dialogue as priorities in making “green” networking a more viable business model:
Lifecycle
Management
The biggest challenge locally is that for governments and large corporations being squeezed for budget, non-green ICT options are still often the easiest and cheapest to deploy-initially. But new Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) tools are changing the game as cost saving can be tied to energy efficiency throughout the entire process of product planning, delivery and maintenance. In the Middle East such tools are still relatively young, but are quickly becoming more thorough and helping many organizations to identify and cap their biggest energy drains.
The Employees Challenge & Solution
All organizations are unique in how IT operations are managed within their existing infrastructure-there really is no one-size-fits-all model. With that said, many of those most successful in implementing sustainable ICT solutions have done so by involving their entire workforce around this call to action. A number of organizations today have done this successfully by setting up sustainability governance teams that work above IT support (and in alliance with procurement) in order to identify and sell “green” on the strategy level.
Continued Optimization
One of the issues most often faced in this region even after organizations go green is the comprehensive collection of data before and during the roll out of ICT solutions. Regulatory policies are often fragmented and disjointed, so companies often have little legal responsibilities in this area. The issue then comes when project managers are left empty handed when demonstrating how new green alternatives are a superior choice to legacy systems. While such reports are often not mandated, there are a host of new instruments tailored to the local environment that enterprises can use to monitor network stability, power consumption and system performance to ensure that solutions are not just established, but optimized for the long-term benefit of the organization.
Getting Down to Business
In a regional ICT market that analysts predict could be worth more than $ 170 billion by 2015, perhaps the “green gap” is that in addition to having the right mind set, applying the right technical solutions is equally important. Earlier this year Dr. Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the Study Groups Department at the ITU, noted awareness as “the biggest obstacle” to a genuine move toward sustainability in the ICT field. Being an enabler technology, the United Nations has further stressed that the ICT industry is ready to deliver energy savings in a way that also drives economic growth.

By further examining the relationship between ICTs and energy costs-especially on the country level-the industry will be able to take bolder corrective actions while continuing to reveal opportunities for those outside the sector to view “green” as a revenue source rather than just an environmental consideration.

— Yi Xiang is president of Huawei Middle East.


OPEC struggles for deal to ease supply cuts as Iran resists

Updated 7 min 28 sec ago
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OPEC struggles for deal to ease supply cuts as Iran resists

VIENNA: OPEC will seek agreement on Friday to raise oil production despite opposition from Iran, which has threatened to block the move as it faces export-crippling US sanctions.
OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have said a production increase of about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or around 1 percent of global supply had become a near-consensus proposal for the group and its allies.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be gathering in Vienna amid calls from top consumers the United States, China and India to cool down the price of crude and prevent an oil shortage that would hurt the global economy.
“It will be a hard meeting today. I wouldn’t say all will accept the 1 million bpd proposed,” an OPEC delegate said, adding the group could agree on a lower figure.
Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, has so far been the main barrier to a deal as it called on OPEC to reject pressure from US President Donald Trump to pump more oil.
Trump imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran in May and market watchers expect Iran’s output to drop by a third by the end of 2018. That means the country has little to gain from a deal to raise OPEC output, unlike arch-rival Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t think we can reach agreement,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the overwhelming majority of producers had recommended raising output by 1 million bpd, gradually and on a pro-rata basis.
OPEC and its allies have since last year been participating in a pact to cut output by 1.8 million bpd. The measure has helped rebalance the market in the past 18 months and lifted oil to around $74 per barrel from as low as $27 in 2016.
But unexpected outages in Venezuela, Libya and Angola have effectively brought supply cuts to around 2.8 million bpd in recent months.
Brent oil prices were up 1 percent on Friday.
Falih has warned the world could face a supply deficit of up to 1.8 million bpd in the second half of 2018 and that OPEC’s responsibility was to address consumers’ worries.
“We want to prevent the shortage and the squeeze that we saw in 2007-2008,” Falih said, referring to a time when oil rallied close to $150 per barrel.
Earlier this week, Zanganeh left the door open for a deal, saying OPEC members that had overdelivered on cuts in recent months should comply with agreed quotas. That would effectively mean a modest boost from producers such as Saudi Arabia that have voluntarily cut more deeply than planned
Zanganeh has said that if OPEC returned to regular compliance, the group would raise output by around 460,000 bpd.
Falih also said the real increase would be smaller than the nominal gain of 1 million bpd, meaning a compromise with Iran remained possible.
OPEC sources also said Iran had demanded that US sanctions be mentioned in the group’s post-meeting communique, as Tehran has blamed US measures for the recent rise in oil prices.
The United States, which rivals Russia and Saudi Arabia for the position of world No.1 oil producer, is not participating in the current supply pact.