Cisco Blogs

Cisco’s Green Crystal Ball

June 6, 2008 - 4 Comments

On a day when oil hit $139/barrel and I just paid $4.72/gal to fill my gas tank, this interview with Paul Marcoux by Chris Morrison offered some interesting perspectives on energy efficiency in the data center and where Cisco is going. As some of you may know, Paul, a founding member of The Green Grid, recently joined the Cisco Development Organization as the VP of Green Engineering, so he would know better than most. One of the things Paul points out is that you need good data to make good decisions. It is one of the things I have talked about in previous posts and you will continue to see efforts from Cisco on providing good data; however, as Paul points out, there is much oppty in this area on all fronts. Check out the interview–Paul has some interesting perspectives.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Steve:I would be curious to hear what type of info you collected to drive that process?Omar

  2. Omar,The numbers are pretty massive in that BT consumes about 0.7% of all UK Electricity, driving an always-on platform is expensive in energy terms. Many of our sites were in locations where obtaining the additional power we needed to support organic growth was impossible. The electricity distribution network was a full capacity with no planned growth in the immediate future (in the UK electricity distribution is seriously underinvested).The only outcome was to look at using gas turbine CCHP plant built on the same site as the data center with absorption chillers using the hot water component to drive down refrigeration load. I have an overview of the approach on my blog: the numbers work, for every joule of energy we put in we get 0.3 joules of electricity and 0.3 joules of quality heat that can drive the chillers.Steve

  3. An interesting read. One of the key things I did in my days as BT was to start building Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at the same time as building out new Data Centers. This had a two fold benefit in:1) Driving generation efficiency from 30% to close to 60%2) Overcoming the underinvestment in electrical infrastructure that capped our ability to grow

  4. Great points Omar. Interesting to note that the cost per ton of coal (the 12,500 BTU kind) has also doubled in the last 4 years as well. In 2002 it was $52 USD per metric ton, it is now at ~$100 per ton. Even this higher price point does not even come close to real costs of burning coal. Some interesting facts about coal:1) Greater than 55% of the worlds electricity comes from it2) China is building one new coal plant roughly every 10 days3) Burning coal is the number depositor of heavy metals (no tuna for pregnant women…)4) More radiation is released by burning coal than all the nuke plants combined worldwide5) On any given day 20% of the smog in Los Angeles originated in ChinaData Center Managers and business planners will be under increased scrutiny moving forward regarding what they plug”” their operation into. As an example, one of my colleagues at Sun Microsystems, Peter Snelling recently calculated it produces about 5-8 times more CO2 going with coal in say Texas than going Hydro in British Columbia. Ironically, Texas is also the largest producer of wind power in the US?!As things progress the need to understand emissions related to specific activities will more and more important. This is one of the areas we are laser focused on here at Cisco. After all, what could be better than the Network to start monitoring resource consumption across a range of human activities? Stay tuned to see how are approaching this over the next year.”