This week at TreeHugger: Motorola is working in Namibia to roll out a combination solar and wind-powered cellphone network. According to a recent study, the energy consumed by US servers is equal to the same amount of energy consumed by all US televisions, and if current trends continue, server electricity usage could increase 40% by 2010, they say. Could it all just be operator error, though? Revelation II is a 36-foot catamaran powered by three 20-foot long carbon fiber propellers on a 30 foot rotating mast. The turbine transmits power to a six-blade propeller underwater, and the system works well enough that the boat can make way even directly into the wind. Lastly, why not take in a flick at the Palm Theatre? The three-screen, second-run movie house is powered by the sun, and since the theatre doesn't open until 3:45, the panels collect enough energy to cover all its electricity use during the sunny summer months.
Namibia is a big place with only two million people and not much infrastructure; to help hurry their new cell networks along, Motorola and cellphone company MTC Namibia are trying out a combo solar and wind installation. According to the BBC, the base station needs between 1,200 and 1,500 watts and to meet that demand the site will have a six-kilowatt turbine and four solar panels. "In Namibia the turbine and solar panels will also be running the base station with traffic on it, the peripheral communications, vsat (satellite transmitter/receiver) and even the protective fencing around the site," said Motorola's Linda Brown. The cell will serve 1,500 people living in the village as well as farming communities almost 20 miles away.
According to a recent study by Jonathan Koomey of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, the energy consumed by US servers accounts for .6% of overall US electricity consumption. If you add in the energy used to cool these systems that number doubles to 1.2%, the same amount of energy consumed by all US televisions. If current trends continue, "server electricity usage" could increase 40% by 2010 as computing needs expand exponentially. The whole thing sounds like operator error to us, though. In the last five years US servers burned through 5 million kw of power — that’s the equivalent of five 1GW power plants, or more than “the total possible output from the Chernobyl plant” when it was working. But, as we're fond of saying, one man's trash is another mans treasure and computer companies everywhere can see business opportunities in inefficiencies; AMD, the company sponsoring the study, is offering energy-efficient chips and efficient processors. Is this another case of hoping our technology will save us from
Revelation II is a 36-foot catamaran powered by three 20-foot long carbon fiber propellers on a 30 foot rotating mast. The windmill transmits power to a six-blade propeller underwater that works well enough that the boat can make way even directly into the wind. Wondering who Photoshopped that windmill onto that catamaran? Sorry — check the post for evidence that the wind turbine concept really functions, and even some rather grainy video proof.
Lastly, kick back, grab some popcorn and take a closer look at the Palm Theatre, a great place to take in a flick in San Luis Obispo. Its three screens are solar powered, and since the theatre doesn't open until 3:45 in the afternoon, the panels collect enough energy to cover all its electricity use and stay off the grid during California's sunny summer months. Since installing the solar panels in July 2004, the theater's energy costs have already decreased by at least 50 percent, and they hope to push that number to 70 percent in the next three years; no word on whether or not that covers the melted butter warmer or not.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.