February 2010

Green Touch Technology

ICT Sector Plans to Leave its own ‘Green Touch’

By: Kelly Fitzpatrick

Imagine that the same amount of energy used to power the Internet for one day currently, will eventually be able to power it for three years?
According to ComputerWeekly.com, a global consortium of “IT and communications equipment and service suppliers” called Green Touch says it’s possible. And they’re on a mission to make sure it happens.

“This is equivalent to 7.8GTn of CO2, or 15 percent of the total world emissions predicted by 2020,” said Vicente San Miguel, CTO of Telefónica, in the same article. San Miguel is one of the Green Touch consortium members.

The first meeting of the Green Touch consortium will take place this February to “thrash out roles, responsibilities and deliverables for 2010.” It will put together a five-year plan, within five years the consortium plans to produce a reference network architecture and demonstrations of key components to deliver energy efficiency for sustainable networks in future decades, according to Telecompaper.com.

Green Touch has received political support from not only the United States, but the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and South Korea.
UK energy secretary Ed Miliband was quoted in ComputerWeekly.com as saying, “The ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] sector is perfectly placed to bring its innovative and technological forces to bear in the low-carbon transition as well as in curbing its own carbon footprint.”

Essentially the plan for Green Touch is to unveil the necessary technologies to make today’s networks 1,000 times more energy efficient than they are today.
According to a CNET.com article titled “Industry group to apply green touch to telecom,” The Green Touch 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.
  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 ten years. Yet based on its own analysis, Green Touch member Bell Labs believes our global networks can actually be 10,000 times more efficient than they are now.

“Over the next decade billions more people will upload and share video, images, and information over public and private networks as we communicate with each other in new, rich ways,” said Gee Rittenhouse, vice president of research at Bell Labs and Green Touch consortium lead, in a statement. We also expect ICT usage to dramatically increase as other industries use networks to reduce their own carbon footprints. This naturally leads to an exponential growth in ICT energy consumption which we, as an industry, have to jointly address.”

“What we are witnessing is a fundamental shift in thinking about ICT from a focus on optimizing networks for maximum capacity to optimizing them for energy efficiency,” said Bell Labs President Jeong Kim in a statement. “The consortium we are forming serves as a major milestone along the path toward a future where the potential of communications networks to meet the demands of their users and benefit society is inextricably linked to our success in achieving environmental sustainability by reducing energy consumption.”
Telecom News had a story this month called “Green Touch – Green Telecom” in which it says with this launch, the consortium “also has issued an open invitation to all members of the ICT community.”

Green Touch Challenges

“Truly global challenges have always been best addressed by bringing together the brightest minds in an unconstrained, creative environment. This was what we used when putting a man on the moon and is the same approach we need to implement to address the global climate crisis. The Green Touch initiative is an example of such a response – bringing together scientists and technologists from around the world and from many different disciplines in an environment of open innovation to attack the problem from many different directions,” said Dr. Steven Chu, United States Secretary of Energy.

“What distinguishes the Green Touch Initiative is its commitment to a hugely ambitious yet quantifiable goal that is rooted in hard science. Its global profile and multi-disciplinary approach will accelerate the necessary fundamental rethinking and development of new technologies,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Enterprise Computing, Network, Consumer, Telecom and Sustainability at IDC, a leading industry analyst firm.
The article also states another important part of this initiative by Green Touch, in that it also offers the potential to generate new technologies and new areas of industry.

Green Touch Members

Green Touch members include: AT&T. CEA-LETI, China Mobile, Freescale Semiconductor, Imec, The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, The Research Laboratory for Electronics at MIT, Portugal Telecom, Swisscom, Telefonica, and AlcatelLucent Bell Labs.

For those companies interested in joining the Green Touch consortium, please visit the web site: www.greentouch.org.