energy Archives — LIRNEasia


As everyone knows, COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have reduced electricity demand and increased demand for data. Especially in countries like Sri Lanka which are dependent on imported coal/diesel for production of electricity, there is a great interest in increasing energy efficiency. The IEA has published an interesting report on energy use by data centers and in data transmission. Strong growth in demand for data centre services continues to be offset by ongoing efficiency improvements for servers, storage devices, network switches and data centre infrastructure, as well as a shift to much greater shares of cloud and hyperscale data centres. Hyperscale data centres are very efficient large-scale cloud data centres that run at high capacity, owing in part to virtualisation software that enables data centre operators to deliver greater work output with fewer servers.
Making the public aware about load shedding schedules is important as more and more younger people now work online and as power is a must to deliver work on time.

Book on energy policy reviewed

Posted on September 1, 2014  /  0 Comments

Somehow, electricity lacks the sexiness of ICTs. People debate how many households have mobiles, but few know how many households have electricity. This on a subject Lenin thought was so important that he proclaimed “Socialism + Electricity = Communism.” Not that I advocate Communism, Lenin forbid. So I was very pleased when a book on energy policy was launched by a Sri Lankan Minister.
Is this a regional trend? I came across this report from Thailand, soon after reviewing a book of energy policy and politics by Minister Ranawaka from the JHU, the Sri Lankan political party which has monks in leadership positions and which got into Parliament by fielding an all-monk slate of candidates in 2004. The monk’s role in energy reform has surprised several people. Phra Buddha, who made a name for himself while leading a protest against the Yingluck Shinawatra government early this year, said he was now planning to champion for reform in this important sector. The monk had joined the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who has now also taken up saffron robes.
In June I posted some pictures from Shanghai of payphones that had WiFi signs on them. What the Chinese have already done, the City of New York is debating. The most controversial idea seems to be converting the payphone locations (which already have power) into electrical vehicle charging stations. Sri Lanka has a minuscule number of payphones so this is not a big issue, but for Asian countries that are beginning to think about what to do, the first step should be to look at evidence on the question of whether payphones are obsolete. For the second step, with regard to certain cities in certain countries, the NYC process might have some ideas: Given the amount of red tape involved, it could be years before the phone kiosks are repurposed, if the idea is approved.

Concerns about energy-use data

Posted on October 18, 2012  /  0 Comments

In 1992, I wrote parts of a report for the National Regulatory Research Institute in the US on privacy and competitive implications for transaction-generated information (a term that has been eclipsed by the less informative “big data” in recent times). We covered all utilities, including electricity. Burns,Robert; Samarajiva, Rohan & Mukherjee, Roopali (1992) Customer information: Privacy and competitive implications, NRRI 92-11 . Columbus OH: National Regulatory Research Institute. Now, 20 years later, the issue is hot, the subject of a BBC story: The EDPS report voices concern over the “potential intrusiveness” of smart meters, which it says can track what members of a household do in the privacy of their homes.
Entry level BPO workers in the Philippines earn USD 300 a month, 20 percent more than the USD 250 their counterparts earn in India. Why? In addition to language skills, the Philippines has better utility infrastructure than India — so companies spend little on generators and diesel fuel. Also, cities here are safer and have better public transportation, so employers do not have to bus employees to and from work as they do in India. Full report.

DC for data centers

Posted on November 18, 2011  /  0 Comments

Telephony and electricity have been always intertwined. AC (alternating current) won over DC (direct current), but DC lived on in the wireline network, where it powered the telephone independently of the electrical grid. Now, with increasing interest in data centers and in their energy efficiency, DC is coming back, according to the NYT. But those constant conversions cause power losses. For example, in conventional data centers, with hundreds of computers, electricity might be converted and “stepped down” in voltage five times before being used.
Our work on broadband QoSE showed that quality deteriorates when one has to communicate with the Internet cloud. We’ve been pushing for action to reduce the prices of international backhaul from Asia, which 3-6 times the prices in Europe and N America. Another solution is to bring the data centers closer. Appears that is happening, to some extent, according to a NYT report. But China?
We haven’t written much about energy here, but increasingly one cannot discuss development or even ICTs without factoring in energy availability and costs. Global energy demand will increase 53 percent from 2008 through 2035, with China and India accounting for half of the growth, the United States Department of Energy said on Monday. China and India will consume 31 percent of the world’s energy by 2035, up from 21 percent in 2008, the department’s International Energy Outlook projected. In 2035, Chinese energy demand will exceed that of the United States by 68 percent, it said. Report.

All Google searches use up 260 MW

Posted on September 9, 2011  /  0 Comments

Even countries like Sri Lanka have 300 MW energy plants. The power generated by Bhutan’s Tala dam is more than 1000 MW. Looks like the data centers are more efficient than we thought. I’ve had little time for people who criticize energy use of web search. Earlier writing was without too much data, because data was not available.

Electricity-telecom nexus

Posted on December 25, 2010  /  2 Comments

Writing a piece on the technological challenges that had to be overcome to increase connectivity in the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) recently, I was struck by how many words I devoted to electricity, both on the need for keeping down the costs of network equipment and for powering handsets. In the old days, we assumed that the footprint of the electricity network was larger than that of the telecom network; now it is the other way around. What is interesting is that the trigger for getting the USD 80 solar generator in the story below was the phone: For Sara Ruto, the desperate yearning for electricity began last year with the purchase of her first cellphone, a lifeline for receiving small money transfers, contacting relatives in the city or checking chicken prices at the nearest market. Charging the phone was no simple matter in this farming village far from Kenya’s electric grid. Every week, Ms.
The colloquium was conducted by Nalaka Gunawardena. The colloquium began by Nalaka explaining the big picture; Climate change and energy use.  Global warming is not new but the rate of global warming is. There is a multiplicity of gases causing global warming and their sources. Looking at the Green House Gas (GHG) mix, Carbon Dioxide is dominant.

No more blackouts?

Posted on October 9, 2009  /  1 Comments

This comprehensive report on smart grid developments seems most pertinent as Sri Lanka recovers from another nationwide blackout caused by the inability of the state owned monopolist to manage its grid (and to restore power despite repeated attempts). Of course, smart grids are not simply about reducing blackouts; they can reduce the massive waste caused by T&D losses and also introduce time-sensitive pricing to reduce peak-load demand. LIRNEasia has its eye on the intersection of energy and ICT as future area of work. WHAT was the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century? The motor car, perhaps, or the computer?
Unsatisfied broadband users added flavor to both our Public Seminar and Mobile Broadband QoSE workshop. That included university students prevented access during the residential peak to Wi-Max subscribers experiencing 20% of the promised speed – even with perfect LoS (Line of Sight). Such complaints are common and not limited to Sri Lanka. From Indonesia to India and from Bangladesh to Philippines we find broadband users rant not receiving the promised. We empathise with them, but this hardly an Asian or a developing world issue.
Now that the battle over ICTs is almost won, we should start thinking about how it can help improve infrastructures, such as transport and energy. The NYT has a fascinating overview, but congestion pricing made possible by ICTs is what caught my eye the most. Perhaps because I had written about it as a solution to chronic congestion in Colombo and continue to be deeply interested in transport issues. In 2006, Stockholm experimented with congestion pricing, charging cars up to $4 to enter the downtown area, depending on the time of day. The cars were monitored with RFID cards and webcams that photographed license plate numbers.