Verizon to make Mobile Phones Energy Efficient
Wireless telecommunications providers—a.k.a. mobile phone companies—are becoming some of the most powerful and profitable entities in the world. However, as their sphere of influence increases, so does their carbon footprint. Always on mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers are making their way into the homes and businesses of billions of people around the world. Telecommunications giant Verizon has decided to seek help from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to improve energy efficiency in its products and for the industry as a whole.
Verizon has signed a memorandum of understanding with NREL to work on two key areas. First, the company seeks to run its data centers and other operations more energy efficiently. Second, it wants to work toward developing new technologies that will use the Verizon network to cut energy use at homes and businesses.
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“Verizon has taken significant steps in becoming a greener more energy-efficient company,” says Verizon sustainability officer James Gowen. “By partnering with one of the top science and technology labs in the world, we’ll be able to achieve even greater efficiencies in a cost-effective fashion.”
The information and communications technology (ICT) sector accounts for three percent of total electricity consumption in the U.S., over half in telecommunications alone. Internationally, the ICT industry accounted for two percent of global carbon emissions in 2007. That figure is prior to the iPhone and greater smartphone revolution, so one can only imagine how that percentage has increased since.
According to the Climate Group’s SMART 2020 report, the ITC industry produced 0.53 billion tons of emissions in 2002, and is on track for 1.43 gigatons by 2020 if nothing is done now to curb the trend.
Verizon has already taken steps to boost energy efficiency. In early 2011, the company began a home energy management pilot program in New Jersey. It has also invested into start-up company Concert, which has developed a home and building energy management system that interfaces with the Verizon 3G network. NREL’s extensive experience in energy efficient data centers and energy management software will likely benefit Verizon greatly in its efforts.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly