Q: What alternative energy sources pose the biggest competition to traditional energy?
By Ambroise Thirion, Technology Solutions Specialist, ProLabs.com
It’s no secret, data centers have a real impact in worldwide electrical consumption and carbon footprint. Data centers are predicted to represent one-fifth of global electricity consumption by 2025, resulting in 3.5 percent of global emissions within 10 years, and alarmingly, 14 percent by 2040.
Power consumption has a vicious aspect in power dissipation: for example, when a component consumes a single watt, most of the energy is dissipated in heating, adding an extra watt required for ventilation and cooling; thus the power consumption domino effect materialized.
To reduce the power consumption and power dissipation, every single component must be reviewed and optimized. One of these components, in particular, is the optical transceiver used widely in modern infrastructure, enabling connectivity between servers, switches, and routers (spine-and-leaf architecture). Currently deploying at 25 and 100 Gbits, the 100 Gbits bitrate is 4 times 25 Gbits (4 x 25 Gbits) over a single line; requiring 4x lasers to achieve the transmission. This level of usage results into a 3.5 Watts power consumption and an average of 3 Watts power dissipation. In total, we are talking about an average of 6-7 Watts per 100 Gbits port, multiplied by the amount of ports in production. Amplified, this could mean that for a thousand ports, it represents a total power consumption (including ventilation and cooling) of 6-7 kWh.
However, technology improvement is moving fast, and the way to design and manufacture an optical transceiver can be completely different for the same module type. The industry has recently released a technology called Silicon-on-Board, which integrates the lasers into a single chipset; lowering the power consumption of the entire module of 1 to 1.5 Watt. Integrating this power saving with the domino effect, it can result in a saving of 2 to 3 Watts per port. For a thousand ports, the saving is 2 to 3 kWh; an improvement that can’t be denied or ignored.
The optical transceivers designed with Silicon-on-board are also commercially branded as “Green Optics,” today available on QSFP28 form factor.
By Peter Knazko, Segment Manager Smart Grid and Metrology, Renesas Electronics America
There is already a well-established path to a renewables future, with large growth in the integration of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and energy storage systems. For solar and photovoltaic systems, both at the residential level and utility scale, parallel investment being made also in the development and implementation of large batteries has set the stage for solar and battery backup systems to play a vital role in reducing our reliance on traditional fossil-fuel based energy.
To make these renewable systems viable, an advanced intelligent infrastructure that monitors, controls, and protects them is being deployed through a “smart grid.” This move requires the automation of electricity control functions that were previously performed by analog or passive techniques, or that were not performed at all, because they didn’t exist. The ability to measure line-level conditions in the distribution network and communicate back to the utility the operational status of that network in real time is a relatively new phenomenon enabled by modern power semiconductor, advanced processors, and software systems.
Built originally as a one-way conduit to push electricity to end users, today’s utilities strive to integrate energy sources never meant to be attached to their networks. Modern power and flow metering, power-quality analysis, and phase synchronization techniques allow the mass integration of distributed energy sources such as solar and energy storage to be located close to a utility’s customers. The essence of the smart grid, then, is its ability to use intelligent systems to optimize the use of energy, while incorporating security and a decentralized capability for renewable energy integration, and even of healing itself during an outage. The need for large traditional generation facilities located hundreds of miles from where the electricity is used can therefore be reduced and the acceleration of renewable energy resources that will be available indefinitely can be greatly increased.