Secretary Chu Announces $47 Million to Improve Efficiency in Information Technology and Communications Sectors

Press Release

By:  Steven Chu
Date: Jan. 6, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Recovery Act Projects to Lower Energy Use by Data Centers and Telecommunications Systems

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Department of Energy is awarding $47 million for 14 projects across the country to support the development of new technologies that can improve energy efficiency in the information technology (IT) and communication technology sectors. The data processing, data storage, and telecommunications industries are a crucial part of the American information economy. The rapid growth of these industries has led to an increase in electricity use, but improvements in the sector's energy efficiency can provide significant energy and cost savings. The energy efficiency projects announced today will reduce energy use and carbon pollution, while helping to develop a strong, competitive domestic industry.

"These Recovery Act projects will improve the efficiency of a strong and growing sector of the American economy. By reducing energy use and energy costs for the IT and telecommunications industries, this funding will help create jobs and ensure the sector remains competitive," said Secretary Chu. "The expected growth of these industries means that new technologies adopted today will yield benefits for many years to come."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is providing funding for research, development and demonstration projects in three subject areas. Projects may include aspects of more than one topic area.

* Equipment and Software -- These projects will focus on the core components of a data or telecommunications center, such as servers and networking devices as well as software to optimize equipment energy use.
* Power Supply Chain -- These projects will develop technologies to minimize the power loss and heat generation that occurs as electricity moves through the ever growing number of server-based IT and communications systems.
* Cooling -- This effort will seek to demonstrate ways to cool the equipment used in IT and telecommunications work more effectively and with less power than current methods.

The $47 million in federal funds for these projects will be matched by more than $70 million in private industry funding, for a total project value of more than $115 million.

Each project promises significant reductions in energy consumed by information technology and communications systems. One company, Power Assure, Inc., estimates its new power management software, which more efficiently regulates server energy usage by turning servers off and on when needed, could reduce energy use by 50 percent in data centers and large server farms.

Another company, Federspiel Controls, is developing a new dynamic cooling system that employs variable fan speeds, adjustable air inlets and wireless temperature sensors to continually monitor and adjust temperatures. The company estimates conventional static cooling systems now typically consume 25 percent of the energy used in a data center.

Information technology and telecommunications facilities account for approximately 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually -- or 3 percent of all U.S. electricity use. Moreover, rapid growth in the U.S. data center industry is projected to require two new large power plants per year just to keep pace with the expected demand growth. Without gains in efficiency, the industry would face increasing costs and greenhouse gas emissions, along with challenges to the reliability of the electricity service.

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