Data center owners could reduce emissions by as much as 99 percent by using electricity market analytics to plan their highest energy consuming computation to coincide with times when the grid is being powered by renewable energy sources, according to results of early-stage research by Microsoft.
Microsoft’s data center research was presented earlier this year to the IEEE Green Technologies Conference 2013 in Denver.
The Dublin, Ireland-based Microsoft researchers outlined algorithms to price data center resources based on electricity market conditions in order to reduce costs, reduce resulting emissions and to increase the share of renewable energy.
The algorithms rate different criteria on the electric grid, like prices, carbon emissions and the rate at which renewable energy is being integrated to power the grid. The analysis helps predict when electricity prices are lowest and when the highest point of renewable energy generation may occur.
Data center owners could use the analysis to delay moveable computation to times when the grid is being powered by renewable energy. They could also use the analysis to move computation to areas of the grid where renewable energy sources are beings deployed, which will help reduce the overall carbon footprint associated with cloud computing, Microsoft says.
Grid operators could offer price incentives to move computation to these “good” times, based on the preferences of the customer or data center operator, Microsoft says.
Microsoft has experimented with energy saving designs and the use of renewable energy at its data centers. For example, the company’s data center research project in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will be powered by a fuel cell power plant from FuelCell Energy.
Microsoft improved the efficiency of its Dublin data center, a facility hailed for its energy-sipping qualities when it came online in 2009. Microsoft has lowered the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of its Dublin facility from 1.24 in its first phase to 1.17 in the newest data hall, which was added last year.