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Solar Powered Colocation 160

ferlatte writes: "There's a colocation facility available that uses nothing but solar power for their machines and local net. An article about them is available at ENN, and their own site is at Solarhost.com. Enviro-geeks might be interested." This would be fantastic for all the brick-and-mortar businesses breaking on to the Web that put 'environmentally friendly' stickers on their products in the eighties.
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Solar Powered Colocation

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  • I support the idea of protecting the environment as much as anyone else, but I've always heard that solar power is a very costly alternative to other power sources. That's bound to be a factor here, since these costs would presumably end up being passed down to their customers. I'm far from an expert on prices for hosting, but these prices do seem higher than some others I've encountered.

    Will people be willing to pay a premium to have their websites hosted in a solar-powered facility? It seems to me that if an individual or business wanted to be more environmentally-friendly, there would be many more effective steps to take than using solar power for their websites. It may sound impressive to switch to this hosting company, but I'd think that, for example, a program to reduce power consumption in a home or office would probably end up helping the environment more.
  • Nova means "star" in Spanish; nobody would confuse it for "no va" [urbanlegends.com]. The Chevy Nova sold well in Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Huh? Hello? What intellectual property has to do with physical items? It doesn't matter what you invent, a better mousetrap or a better software emulator of mousetrap. IP covers IDEAS, not physical mousetraps.

    Oh well. Solar panels got nothing to do with all this shit. You can tell it from the subject line -- it says offtopic right there, see?
    --

  • This is particularly cool news for me because I'm the IT guy at an ecological products/alt energy company. ;-) I'd love to have energy-saving hubs, switches and servers; if nothing else, reduced air conditioning bills could save us a substantial amount of money every year, and that kind of talk makes even skeptical folks smile.

    We've got part of the office lighting and some of the computers on solar power now. We've found that the key to making it work involves more than just better/more efficient technology; it requires discipline as well--weaning ourselves away from the lure of instant-on products which are always consuming power, for instance.

    http://www.jademountain.com [jademountain.com]
  • Sorry, but photovoltaics are worse for the environment than almost all the conceivable alternatives. First of all, the large scale production of them would seriously contaminate the environment.

    I agree on the basis that large-scale deployment of photo-voltaics is expensive and land-consuming. Photovoltaics are best used in smaller devices, IMHO. Scroll up to my previous post in this article about using them in laptops/PDAs.
    However, that doesn't completely rule out solar power as a means of large-scale (the buzzword in this post) energy production. Use the old parabolic-mirror-setup to reflect/focus sunlight onto a water pipe and use the traditional steam turbine method. It's been done before (with major problems, of course, with the mirrors.)
    There are probably other methods of collecting solar energy that nobody has thought of as yet. But that doesn't mean the focus should remain solely on a star ~93 million miles off. (e.g. Iceland can't be the only place around with potential for Geothermic power, right?)
    Better yet, maybe I can power a Palm with 4 hamster wheels. THE FUTURE IS IN SMALL RODENT POWER!
    Excuse me, I have to go beat off several PETA stormtroopers. :)
  • What about all those hundreds of pounds of Lead in the batteries? Solar is great while the sun is shining, but as a system it includes batteries with lots of Lead. Are they cleanly recyclable?
  • Another thought. If an amount X of fossil fuels produces Y energy, how much energy does it require to extract, process, transport, store, etc. that amount X? The argument always seems to have the POV that the burning of fossil fuels, it costs nothing to produce said fuel in the first place.
    --
  • /me looks out the window at the beautiful overcast day, one of many in southwestern PA.
  • No joke.

    Pig farmers have a problem with gas given off by feces. This gas I believe can be used to power something can't it?

    So with farmers facing ever increasing costs to operate, why can't a seconday market be created to use this "natural gas" (pun intended) to power (or supplement) current energy requirements.

    So whenever you tell a farmer that energy costs are rising along with demand and he/she repies "No Shit", it's not a statement of the obvious. It's the farmers way of telling you what the problems is.

    ;)

  • I promised myself I wouldn't make any posts today to lose anymore Karma, but I've never been any good at keeping promises anyway, so...

    I think it is rather narrow minded of so called "enlightened" people from other countries laughing at Americans for being concerned over our Gas prices. The fact is, our entire economy is linked to energy prices at one point or another. If the price of fuel raises by 50%, then so too must the price of bread raise, after all, part of the cost is the distribution.

    It's linked into everything. It's not about spending $2 more to go to grannies on the weekends, its about keeping the prices of goods and services consistant with our current pay scale. If the price of everything goes up.. well thats inflation, and that's bad.

    Also, it's unfair to compare prices on purely a monitary basis. You should also take into consideration the overal economy of an area. If it costs me $600 a month to rent a small 2 bedroom apartment, and elsewhere it costs $300 to rent the same apartment, elsewhere a person making less than I would still have more buying power.

    Laugh all you want... our economy is still stronger than yours.

  • you are right on a few facts, but overall you failed miserably to make your point or disprove mine. My suggestion had nothing to do with soot, and the photosynthesis involved in my suggestion is every bit as good as yours, and my solution results in dead trees/fossil fuels/carbon accumulating in the ground while yours does not.
  • "When I gun the motor I want people to think the world is coming to and end."

    I love the simpsons.
  • Marketing aside, they are at least doing something. I have my own reservations about the solar vs. space consumption issue, especially in VA, where greenspace in Northern Virginia is disappearing, but they have made a first poke, where others have done Nothing.

    No one can fix every problem, so you shouldn't blame this company for failing to fix every problem, when the rest haven't even attempted to fix a single one.

    I wonder if they have a Big-Ass Diesel generator for backup? It's been rainy around here this summer.
  • IP covers IDEAS, not physical mousetraps.

    You have this *exactly* back to front. Patent law (which is a subset of intellectual property law, btw, the two are not synonyms) covers designs for physical objects, not ideas. The only way in which software or algorithm patents manage to get through is by patenting "A system composed of a computer and software, where the software ...." -- a clear abuse of the system, IMO. Patent law works well for physical objects, as a compromise between intellectual freedom and the "promotion of the useful arts".

    Note also that patent law on physical objects does not prevent innovators from studying and improving their design -- the whole point of patents is to bring intellectual property into the public domain and avoid the alternative, which is trade secrets. You can study a patented mousetrap, improve the design, and patent your improvement, so long as you declare the original mousetrap as prior art and pay appropriate licensing fees if you market your invention.

    You probably ought to do a bit more research before publishing articles in the press.

  • really, whenever I see someone whining about 'the enviroment' I just substitute 'population' - there's a real problem but having more&more people consume less&less isn't the answer. Will humanity solve that one 'rationally' or will the age old limits of war, famine, disease etc. have to save the planet?
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:48AM (#868607) Homepage
    Let's face it -- government regulations aren't working

    Correct, but you have got a wrong example for environmental awareness.

    I would call this company envrironmentally friendly if it was somewhere in Death Valley or similar. It uses prime VA land instead. A waste of prime agricultural/habitable land imho is almost as bad as burning coal and oil if not worse.

    It uses solar batteries instead of helioconcentrators. They have

    • limited and rather short lifetime
    • producing them generates polution. The silicon industry is hardly environmentally friendly, no matter what people say
  • by AntiFUD ( 219764 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:53AM (#868608)
    a solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.
    This was quickly proven to be false. Now even the fossil fuel [fossilfuels.org] advocates have dropped the accusation. They now claim around 5 years [fossilfuels.org] as a break even point. Solar panels are getting better, so I think 5 years is far too high, but that is more of a debatable point, and not FUD.

  • a solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.

    Interesting... got any stats to back this up?

    -Ciaran

  • The words "given current technology" are conspicuously missing from your post. Until corporations are given the correct incentives which recognise that future generations matter (despite being unable to vote or pay money), they will continue to underspend on developing technology to improve these methods.

    Diminishing returns also apply to oil, you know.

  • I overheard an American in Cambridge recently...
    So petrol is 75p here, that's [scratch, scratch] about $1.20. Hey, that's the same as back home, what are you Brits complaining about?

    As thick as two short planks.

    FatPhil

  • What is wrong with patents on solar panels? Fool. All the civil liberties issues arise with respect to software patents or excessively general business process patents. Patents on physical devices are by their nature limited to the actual technology, and nobody knows of a better way to incentivise development.

    Where's the Open Source Solar Panel Initiative? I'll tell you; it's slightly less progressed than the Open Source Natalie Portman Initiative. That at least has a mailing list ...

  • Solar panels even though they do produce less energy than that used to manufacture them do come into there own when you have to transmit the power to remote locations, as building the infrastructure to transmit it and the loses in transmission must also be factored in, everything is not black and white...

    Another thing that supprised me when I read the New Scientist, was the fact that DAMs (which some people would consider good for the environment) produce 2 times more green house gases in the earily years then, as much as a coal fired powerstation in later years. The roting vegitation in stagant water produced alot of methane.
  • thank you for getting it :)

    and young trees accumulate carbon mass more quickly than old trees do.

  • You'd be right if you say "pre-stellar" and "post-stellar". "Solar" generally means "pertaining to Sol", and elements used in fission are not created in Sol, right?
    --
  • A solar farm is big - especially if you want to power a dozen or so PCs and keep them cool.

    There are other micropower sources of varying capacity, but still a lot greener than a central power station. For example, how about small gas-turbine units driven by natural gas? They exist now and can give power from 25Kw upwards. With only one moving part (the rotor), they are very reliable.

    There is a place for solar and wind farms, but you need a *lot* of space for them.
  • How are we going to drain the sun? Solar panels don't actively pull energy from the sun. They merely collect light emitted by the sun.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But they prices WON'T reach that for several reasons. We got the bomb. We would kill our congressmen for taxing gasoline as much as it is taxed "over there". And we got the bomb. We can level the mideast into a parking lot. Fuck with us and we'll wipe you camel jockies off the earth and send in our own guys to pump gas.
  • I never stated that other economies aren't concerned with the price of fuel, I was merely stating that it was assinine to state that Americans shouldn't complain about their fuel costs rising, even though ours is cheaper than yours.

    Its stupid to say that I shouldn't be upset when asked to pay more money for something. Just because you already pay more doesn't mean that I should have to. Or would you have us price fix the entire globe, hmm?
  • That's funny as... well, it's funny!

  • Most computers use switched-mode power supplies. These are a mainly INDUCTIVE load on the grid.

    Um, don't most computer power supplies contain a large capacitor to even out the power factor? Your power company would be Unhappy if you decided to plug a substantial inductive load into your wall socket.

    Even if the computers themselves overlook this, a co-lo facility wouldn't. IIRC you're billed substantially above the standard rate for your power if you have an inductive load. This is why most industrial machinery takes care to add enough capacitance to get a power factor near unity. A co-lo facility would add this to its server racks if the power supplies themselves didn't handle it, to minimize hassle from the power company.
  • by vertical-limit ( 207715 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @12:46AM (#868622)
    It's nice to see some clueful companies finally making use of solar power; it's been taking entirely too long to catch on. It's obviously cleaner, more efficient, and easier to use (the sun is everywhere, unlike fossil fuels) -- and here we still are applauding GM for "protecting the environment" by releasing an expensive electric car that no will ever buy.

    Let's face it -- government regulations aren't working. Every time big industry gets close to having to adopt a cleaner power source, they moan and groan about how it will ravage "the economy" (read: Lee Iacoca's bottom line) and the government backs down again. We need to make it economically unsound to pollute. Why don't we environmentally-minded consumers just stop buying polluting products like cars and aerosol sprays? If enough people refuse to put up with pollution, everyone will be forced to follow the way of these kind of pioneers.

  • Hello!

    I am here to talk to you as the Vice-President of S.O.S., an important environmentalist movement.

    Our enviornment is now facing the worst challenge to its continuing well-being to come since the creation of the Atom Bomb. This new threat is masquerading as a harmless device in most people's homes, schools, offices -- you just can't escape!

    That's right, I'm talking about the Solar Panel. Sure, they may seem like handy things to have. They can power your calculator, your car, even your webpage hosting company.

    But we of SOS (Save Our Sun!) know better. Studies show conclusively that the billions of hand-held calculators, wristwatches, and more using solar power are DESTROYING OUR PLANET!

    Thousands of acres of previously vibrant rainforest are dying because they cannot get the sun they so deseprately need to flourish. Many third-world countries are suffering from a complete lack of sunlight now, and actually have to have it piped in from neighboring countries.

    How will you feel in twenty years when you have to tell your child he'll never see the Sun because your generation used it all up on useless handheld calculators!?

    We MUST put a stop to the wanton abuse of solar power immediately! Write your congressman. Write the president. Write the president of Texas Instruments! SMASH YOUR CALCULATOR! We must SAVE OUR SUN!

    TAKE ACTION TODAY!

  • 1.lead - and lots of it, in each computer, in every monitor's glass, they'll still have lots of lead in their equipment, and I'm guessing they won't be extracting it before getting rid of their old hardware when it comes time
    2.ozone - any time you run an electric motor (fan, power supply, dustbuster, whatever) some atmospheric oxygen gets zapped into ozone, an element of smog
    3.VOC's - Volatile Organic Compounds, which will be emitted from their new furniture and carpet over the next few years, unless they chose to go with solid wood furniture and simply stain or oil it (which I highly doubt)

    While you're at it, why don't you add a fourth reason:

    4.CH4 and H2S - methane and hydrogen sulfide, produced as flatulents by all of the people who work there after consuming food of any sort.
    I mean, how can any firm be "100% environmentally- friendly" if they actually hire homo sapiens who go around inefficiently converting carbon-based food sources into smelly air polution?

    Sarcasm aside, I think your points are pretty specious. Your point about ozone production, although technically accurate, is also misleading because the amount produced is so neglible. One car running for one day produces more NOx's and SO2 (the main constituents of smog) than a computer produces ozone in a lifetime. As for lead in computers, it's not so bad as you suggest. The lead is certainly not volatile (in the sense where it can vaporize into the atmosphere) and there are quite a few firms now that specialize in recyling computer parts, so that the lead doesn't necessarily have to go into a landfill at the end of its lifetime. And, as for your third point, I mean, come on: they can't be environmentally friendly because they use furniture? VOCs from carpets are NOT one of the pressing environmental dangers this world faces.

    All in all, I think you are unnessarily pessimistic about solarhost, to the point where you seem to be saying, "Don't bother with any environmentally friendly firms, they can't be 100% correct, so let's stick with those coal burning power plants we use now!" The fact that you apply misleading scientific nomenclature to your argument makes you at worst a troll, and at best a misguided mouthpiece for the energy industry status quo.

  • A few questions. Where did you get the 30% power loss for distribution figure? If 30% of the power were lost in the distribution grid the whole thing would glow like toaster wires.

    Secondly, where did you get the 90% efficiency rating for small generators? I assume your comment about 'thermal included' means using the exhaust to heat the building in the winter.

    The last time I checked, an automobile engine was quite a bit more efficient than a lawn mower engine. The heat losses of large engines are proportionally lower than the heat losses of small engines. (Squared - cubed law; losses go as the surface area - heat production as the volume. That's why elephants have a lower metabolic rate than mice; elephants are more efficient because they have lower heat loss per unit of mass.) Simply because of size, the large engines in central generating stations are more efficient than the small ones industry could use.

  • What would really be neat is if some company devised a plan and started production of solar cells using free energy solutions such as solar-heat to power their machinery.. then it wouldn't matter so much that solar cells were inefficient because they are still better/easier for small applications.
  • Sure..... people stop buying cars? That won't happen too soon.
  • It is true that computers are not the largest energy users, but the real value of efforts like this is to increase the use of photovoltaic cells, directly and by publicizing them.

    We need to increase the critical mass of PV users. PV technology benefits greatly from economies of scale (in R& D, production, marketing, etc.) helping to bring about the day when PV is cheaper than more polluting technologies even for companies that don't give a @#$% about the environment. (BTW, this is a solid economic justification for the government to subsidize PV.) PV has other advantages like portability and reliability.

    Go Solarhost!

  • However, as I was sitting by the seaside last weekend, wishing I had a laptop with 4 spare batteries, I wondered if a solar panel the size of a laptop could be used to either power the laptop, or at least suppliment the power. Does anyone out there in engineer-land know?

    FatPhil
  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @06:37AM (#868630) Homepage
    Something to think about.

    At 6 foot 2 inches (177 cm) and 300 pounds, I cannot physically get behind the wheel of most small cars. Specifcally, this includes your Ford Fiesta. And I'm not the tallest person I know by any means (although I am one of the largest).

    Also, in the US we have many people who live in rural areas the likes of which you have never seen in Europe. I used to live in a town where, to get to the nearest clothing store, you had to drive thirty miles. Groceries were ten miles, and at that overpriced. If you wanted to buy a computer, 50 miles (this was in rural Virginia -- we won't even talk about the western states.) A job good enough to afford a car was 50 miles as well.

    At $6/gallon, a trip to work in the smallest car I can drive comfortably (which probably gets 23 miles/gallon highway) costs me $24.

    Incidentally, in Europe your much higher population density also allows much better mass transit. In the US, mass transit is almost totally unavailable except in major metropolitan areas, and spotty even there. To get from Wakefield (where I used to live) to the nearest train station, you had to drive 30-40 miles. There was no other way.

    Bear in mind that the UK is the size of one US state, and if memory serves has about 50% of the US population. Different circumstances require different approaches.

    --

  • "I seriously suspect these people of being more interested in doing CGI programming at 75$/hr than protecting the environment.. Besides, they're not even running Solaris :)" I'm always amazed when people criticize or assign motives to people they don't even know. I, OTOH, _do_ know them, and don't see anything wrong with combining two interests and skills in a commercial fashion-what, in fact, could possible make more sense? They do some Linux hosting, too, btw. Dave
  • From their website:
    We have combined the latest technologies
    (U.S. Patent Pending)
    Please do not pollute our intellectual environment with patents. Thank you.
    --
  • solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.

    Not only that but they have a bank of batteries for backup. Needless to say the batteries are expensive to manufacrture, contain a lot of nasty chemicals and have to be replaced periodically. Considering that they have enough to run the whole operations for 5 days, one wonders just how enviromentally friendly they are.

  • by Scurra UK ( 143378 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @12:51AM (#868634)
    This is great, but what happens when it rains and people want to go look at your website as they can't be outside?

    "HTTP/1.1 Error 1000 - Sun is not shining"
  • So we agree that if you arrange machine instructions in some innovative manner, this ought to be non-patentable. Now please tell me why arranging atoms to produce a drug, or arrange toothwheels and pulleys and what-have-you to produce a mousetrap, is any different?

    Imagine a machine that, given a chemical formula and some supply of atoms, can synthesize a substance to that formula. Now the formula starts to look a lot like a computer program, doesn't it? Imagine further that such a machine is affordable to a regular household. Wow, no more expensive patented drugs!

    Or imagine a machine that, given a drawing of a part and some metal, can produce such part... wait, such machines already exist! The drawing is a computer program, and your CNC-whatever is just another peripheral device!

    All in all, I don't see a lot difference between programs and physical object designs. And whatever difference exists now will only diminish in the future.

    Patent laws worked well for physical objects. Now they work not-so-well. In the future they may stop working at all.
    --

  • ok, technodork nitpick here... W/hr? umm, IIRC, Watts=kgm^2/s (E/T, joules=kgm^/s^2, div. by seconds...) hence, joules/hr, or just watts, is probably what they meant. Sorry to rant. And if I got my facts crossed up, oops.
  • One of the conundrums with solar power is that it would be a lot less expensive if the market was large enough to enable economies of scale and encourage investments in R&D. But of course the market is not large enough for that because the technology is expensive.

    It sounds like this guy is well aware of the expense issue and is doing this largely as a proof-of-concept so that others can duplicate the model and thus increase the market for the technology.

    -

  • What's wrong with patents on solar panels?

    I can't tell you exactly what's wrong, but I feel that something is wrong. Maybe it's the 20 year span which should be more like 3 years nowadays. I don't know. Please forgive me this vagueness; I'm a programmer, not IP expert. For your amusement, here's an excerpt from my future article (currently in a very draft form) that I'm preparing for a local e-zine (local as in located in a small country very far from any civilization center). Share and enjoy. No copyright on this piece of shit :)

    Andrew Wiles is a mathematician. His greatest achievement is a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. He worked on this proof for many years (most of his life in fact). Many other people helped him along the way, but he remains the principal author of the proof.

    NOBODY CONTROLS THE WILES'S PROOF. IT IS FREE FOR EVERYONE TO COPY. I can write a book about FLT and include his proof in it. Or I can take his proof and use it as a basis to prove some other theorem. (Well, in theory at least; I'm not a number-theorist.) He will not get a dime from me. He can't do a thing about it, and it looks like he couldn't care less.

    What's going on, people? A creative man that doesn't own fruits of his creativity, nor he wishes to! Maybe he's not compensated justly? No, it doesn't seem like he's starving, or has any plans to abandon his work as a mathematician due to lack of compensation. So we have this line of reasoning which says "if creative people cannot control their work, they will not be compensated and will either starve or abandon their creativity", and it must be flawed because here we see a flat counterexample.

    Of course most mathematicians on this planet are just like him: they are creative, they don't control the fruits of their creativity, and they are happy with this situation.

    So there. Put it in your USPTO pipe and smoke it.


    --
  • Their solar panels (Siemens SR-100s [solarpv.com]) generate 10W/square foot. That's just not very much, considering a notebook processor needs ~10W, a HD 5-10, and a screen 30-40W.

    It also means they need ~20 square feet of sun-space for a 200W server (40 if they want to store enough solar energy to run overnight)

  • How many factories does Andrew Wiles need to practice his art? How many tons of rare metals? How many foundries? How many labs? How many prototypes? What's the largest project that can be financed out of a Princeton University salary?

    Thinking from computer programs to physical objects doesn't really work.

  • I saw this one around the net, http://www.1x4x9.com/dropout/tunein/ this one sounds pretty intresting and very low cost. excuse my html
  • You're right, of course. I think the numbers look reasonable though - even though the unit isn't.. Guess my brain hadn't started working yet when I quoted that without noticing..

    Actually, looking at the chart on top of the page, they seem to be confusing Watt-hours with Watts. So they mean to say Watt-hours/hr. Or just Watts. Oh well.
    --

  • Checked out where this facility is located and it turns out they are located in Warrenton, VA. This is what used to be the tip of suburban sprawl in the Washington, DC metro area (50 miles from the heart of DC).

    Seems if they were truly interested in protecting the environment they would not have located their facility out in the fringes of the city. There are a large number of managed/co-lo facilities located much closer to the population that is maintaining them.

    I would venture to say that if this facility is as large as the other facilities in the area that it is using just as much fossil fuel if not more than the others. This is because all of the employees have to get in their cars and drive from their homes in the city and suburbs out to the facility. They burn a lot more hydrocarbons and a lot more inefficiently than a power plant.

    Definately another case of trying to make a profit off of environmental fads....
  • Trees that have been cut down leave space for (wait for it....)

    More Trees.

    Not a revolutionary concept there.
  • What we need are huge solar panels in space and wireless transmission of power down here to juice the stuff that eats a bit more than the websites..

    This is a perfect idea!!! Then, once you have these satellites and the proper base facilities to harness this power, you are able to produce so much energy that you can buy your way out of almost any problem and you will finally be free to crush Yang and his infernal Hive!!!!

    Next step, Hydroponic satellites!!

  • First, drug patents are in fact not recognised; chemical compounds cannot be patented. Drug patents tend to take the form "A machine ...", specifying the process for synthesising and purifying the compound of interest. Drug companies can and have in the past sold rival patented medicines in which the active compounds were chemically identical.

    Machines are different precisely because they are specific physical objects which are not generalisable to allow the patent holder to lay claims to vast swathes of human knowledge. The patent holder can make enough of a return on his machine to compensate him for development and to encourage him (or her) not to keep it secret, and that's all. Patent law works for machines. It doesn't work for things which aren't machines, which is why we have copyright law for artistic works and trademark law for distinctive commercial marks.

    In the context of computer programs, which are neither machines, artistic works nor commercial marks, we clearly need a different IP regime. I don't believe that "anything goes" is the best regime, and will only be convinced otherwise when I see a significant "open source" effort which isn't a clone of something produced elsewhere. But whatever that regime, it is unlikely to be then the best model for machines.

    There are a lot of good books on this subject; some of which are only slightly longer than this series of books. I really recommend you read one.

    1. Andrew Wiles may need very little, but think about particle accelerators and radiotelescopes. Should "intellectual property" derived from use of these little devices be protected?
    2. How many tons of rare metals Metallica needs to practice its arts? Should the fruits of their labour be free for all to use?
    (Burn karma burn :)
    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why don't they just run this place on potatos.

    Slashdot proved definitively that it could be done not that long ago.
  • When you say "solar power", you really ought to say what *kind* of solar power. Hydroelectric power is solar power (and much more efficient and cost-effective than photovoltaics). So is fossil fuel. Wind power is solar + lunar power (gravity). Nuclear power... hmm.. not sure about that one.
  • Lets face it, how many people like it when they see smoke out of their huge triple exhaust and when their engine make lots of unnecessary noise a la Harley-Davidson? These are the same people who like the smell of gasoline and like having their hands dirty with greasy oil in their garage while smoking a cigarette. Common thinking among them is that it's not their car that pollutes the air; it's the cheap cars they make today, like the one the neighbors bought and that never start during winter. It's big business that dumb shit all over the country. Like they would make a difference anyway. This why they keep those double-shotguns in their trunks, so that when they try to dumb stuff on their property, they will be meet with the necessary greetings.

    Just remember that only 10% of the population goes to college. And the vast majority of the rest are more interested in knowing "The Rock" sang at the republican convention and that he's voting Republican, rather then knowing about some obscure bill, in wich they don't understand the terms anyway, that congress might pass about ecology.

    wiZd0m

  • I've never bought the arguement that there's not enough land for wide-scale (and useful) solar power deployment.

    While driving around my home of Salt Lake City, I'm always disgusted at the waste of land due to urban sprawl, houses, parking lots, etc. I'm sure it's like that in every major US city.

    After reading a /. article on electric cars a while back, I got to thinking. Why the hell can't PV cells be deployed on roof-tops (residential as well as business) and on covered parking areas? I mean, how much land does a typical Wal Mart parking lot waste? Why not cover it and put PV cells on the coverings? The cars are covered from sun, rain, snow -- and we get "free" electricity to boot!

    Hell, if I had the money, I'd put PV cells on my roof and make a carport (i have no garage) to place more PV cells on it. If it weren't so damned expensive (and it wouldn't be if everyone did it), I'd run "off grid" as much as I could.



  • truth be told this is a selling gimick, but truth be told we really need more like this. Solor Arrays are still costint quite a bit of money. I studied environmentally concious housing this including houses with solar arrays and the cost was incredible. it did pay for it self but only in about 15 years. plus the house looked like a solar car with windows and a patio. not to mention the incredible cost for batteries. I still applaud this as a move in teh right direction. environmentally concious companies seeking web hosting should take the next step and support them.
  • OK, so they bit the bullet and shelled out some serious cash to generate their own electricity. Hooray for them, they've Done Their Part (TM) in saving the planet.

    Now, let's get down to all the other pollutants that they didn't get rid of:

    1. lead - and lots of it, in each computer, in every monitor's glass, they'll still have lots of lead in their equipment, and I'm guessing they won't be extracting it before getting rid of their old hardware when it comes time
    2. ozone - any time you run an electric motor (fan, power supply, dustbuster, whatever) some atmospheric oxygen gets zapped into ozone, an element of smog
    3. VOC's - Volatile Organic Compounds, which will be emitted from their new furniture and carpet over the next few years, unless they chose to go with solid wood furniture and simply stain or oil it (which I highly doubt)
    Simply put, it would be extremely expensive to start up a business (ANY business) that is 100% environmentally-friendly. While I would applaud this, what they have done is simply started yet another hosting service, and are serving up this solar powered schtick for publicity.

    Their hearts are in the right place, but unfortunately it's just not enough.

  • Low-density power sources like solar, biomass, wind etc. have serious scaling problems. When you get less energy yield per pound of generator or square foot of plant space, you have to compensate by building more power infrastructure.

    For someone who has supposedly worked with computers for many years you see to have totally missed the idea of a technological advance. The efficiency of solar panels has increased over the years, along with other advances such as transparent solar cells [bottomquark.com] which will allow them to become more ubiquitous. The efficiency demonstrated today is close to the efficiency required for solar power to become viable as a means for providing the power we need.

    The construction costs (in money, environmental impact, and human lives lost) blow up a helluva lot faster than most alternate-energy fans realize.

    Hello? Solar panels can be installed anywhere with minimal effort on a small scale, providing a reasonable amount of power. Given the right governmental initiatives people could be encouraged to use solar power, thus reducing the amount of traditional power sources required. It doesn't always have to be the strip mine approach you seem to suggest.

    They're extrapolating from demonstration projects without thinking about second-order effects.

    Which are...?

  • by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @03:15AM (#868663) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone ever noted that growing treas, making paper, and burying it rather than recylcing is about the only way there is to remove carbon from the atmosphere to forestall alleged global warming?

    Or better yet, build houses out of the trees. There are billions of tons of carbon locked up in homes aroudn the country.

  • According to this [gaia.org] article, solar power costs about 3.3 kWh/W to manufacture. Considering the location of this site (Virginia, I think) they have not chosen a great place to locate a photovoltaic generation facility. My SWAG at how much "full sun" they receive in a year, counting cloudy days, and so on, is about 3 hr/day, about 1100 hr/year. To break even for just the photovoltaics to make up the energy required to produce them, it would take 3 years! (If you have more accurate numbers, please correct me.)


    Photovoltaics are really best suited for remote applications, and places where it is really sunny. I think the solar power here is more of a publicity stunt than a "green" application.

  • by Matt_Bennett ( 79107 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @03:16AM (#868666) Homepage Journal
    I can't say anything about 1) or 3) but 2) is probably not an issue- ozone is produced by brush type motors, and virtually all motors in computer equipment are brushless motors. The computers would have a very hard time passing FCC emission specs with brush motors. The electrical noise put out by brush motors would probably be a really bad thing for the circuits in the computer too.

    If they are really trying to be efficient, they would also avoid the lead bearing CRTs for the (electrically) efficient LCD display. There really isn't an economical way to get rid of the lead used in the solder, though there are non lead bearing solders available, they are still expensive, more difficult to use, and largely unproven.
  • This is just a typical reaction from, i'm guessing, one of the more ignorant ppl here.

    The last I checked scotland still had quite a low population density and given that the bulk of journies in the US are shorter than in the UK (sorry no figures - cant remember where i read it) it seems pretty inexcusable having big fuel-hungry cars.

    My point was that if US fuel prices did hit $5 or $6 a gallon then i'm quite sure that would destroy the american "But my car is just an exetension of my ...." attitude.

    Or maybe i'm wrong.
  • I never thought I'd do this, cuz I hate seeing posts like these, but dammit I submitted this story WEEKS ago. :-(

    2000-07-26 19:42:44 Clean energy to power VA-based ISP (articles,science) (rejected)
    Los Bastardos!

    The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk
  • What was that crack about cgi programming about? $75/hr is a reasonable price, check around, that's pretty cheap really. And I mean, so what if they want to do cgi programming too? Most hosting companies offer extra services like this too, I can't even fathom what your comment about that meant.

    sig:

  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @08:29AM (#868675) Homepage Journal
    > a solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.

    OK. Solar cells; yes. Solar power; no.

    Solar cells are not currently designed to be used in power plants or anything of that nature because usually the cost of production does not justify the profit that one can make selling the electricity. You're part correct in that "it takes more energy to make them blah blah blah" which is not entirely true; but disregarding that whole statement let me ask you this:

    Have you ever seen a solar power plant?

    Barring a couple exceptions they don't use solar cells. They use semi-parabolic reflector arrays (not even mirrors really) that work kind of like a huge fresnel mirror to reflect sunlight up onto a gigantic black obelisk-looking tower that has pipes running through it. The reflectors are all on gimbals so they can move through the day to continue to reflect light onto this tower correctly. The thing gets HOT. Water is pumped through the pipes to make steam which drives turbines. It's the same electricity generation process as nuclear, coal/oil, and geothermal plants all use.

    Diss on solar cells all you want - they really are kind of a black thorn in the side of environmentalists; but please do not rip on solar power.

    ~GoRK
  • He's talking about a freaking creek running through your backyard! If you live on a steep hillside (let's say northern New Mexico around Carson National Forest for a good example) and you have this little stream that comes tumbling down the mountain on your property, what you do is this:

    Build a pipe that can carry the water from the high point to the low point (4 inch PVC is usually quite sufficient); build a small pond at the top fed by the stream and drained by the pipe; then put a turbine at the bottom of the pipe and discharge the water into the stream bed. In good locations you only have to interrupt the flow of water for a couple hours while your little pond fills up and you remove a whole 75 feet of streambed.

    These are feeder streams; not creeks; not rivers. There are no fish. A bear can walk another 50 feet to drink water with no problems and if you're worried about harming a bunch of algae - well I dont know what to say to you. Obviously you are extremely mixed up.

    MICRO-HYDRO not the Hoover Dam

    ~GoRK
  • Actually, they are running windows on that...

    solarhost.com [solarhost.com] is running Microsoft-IIS4.0 on NT4 or Windows 98 [netcraft.com]

    It would be much cooler to be running on Sun Servers instead though... ("We run Sun off the sun!") Thats why I just had to check.
    --

  • From the Quotable Homer:
    ...old people don't need companionship. They need to be isolated and studied, so it can be determined what nutrients they have that might be extracted for our personal use.

    --
  • by NoseyNick ( 19946 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @03:37AM (#868686) Homepage
    an explosion of planned colocation facilities will strain the European grid to its limit

    Most computers use switched-mode power supplies. These are a mainly INDUCTIVE load on the grid.

    "When the grid was made", most of the stuff on it was (well, MOSTLY still IS) RESISTIVE loads like filament bulbs and heating elements.

    I understand that the big increase in INDUCTIVE loads, though not providing an actual POWER CONSUMPTION problem, does provide some kind of a STABILITY problem. The grid people can add in all kinds of filters and stuff to balance the effect of too much inductive load, but then when any tiny section of the grid drops out, the resulting spike upsets the inductive loads and the filters in adjoining sections of the grid, which will also pop their big oil-filled grid fuses, which will in turn produce a spike that upsets THEIR neighbours, etc etc etc... In a nutshell, the entire grid is balancing on a knife edge, which is getting sharper and sharper every day as we add more inductive loads to it.

    There's no problem actually generating ENOUGH POWER... The problem is keeping the whole grid stable.

    ... or so I've been led to believe...

    This is probably less of an issue if, instead of using a big unstable grid, you're generating your own electricity from solar arrays, and filtering and balancing it however you want.

  • '' We're the Sun in ".sun". ''
    '' The Sun IS the computer! ''

  • OK, I'm sorry I don't have good links available, but here goes. There was a pice on ZDNN [zdnn.com] a while back about growth of the US power grid. In 1990, computers used less than 1% of US power, they now use 13%. Power capacity (or grid capacity, not sure which -- there's a difference) has grown only 4%. The problem is expected to get worse, not better, esp. with deregulation of the industry. The Register [theregister.co.uk] had a piece a while ago about how new colo facilities seem to want to locate in London for the high connectivity, but, as a result of power restrictions, had to specially contract with the power utilities to get extra capacity added and more lines run, costing in the millions for a new colo for power setup alone. Anyway, that's all I remember...

    ---
  • There's nothing about people being able to co-locate servers at this site. It's a web hosting facility.

    Not only that, it's an NT only web hosting facility. I don't think I'll be trusting my site to them anytime soon, then. Furthermore, they've got some pretty strict rules about what you're allowed to host there:

    SolarHost will not provide services for websites that are detrimental to society, such as those displaying adult/pornographic material, hate sites, or other illegal content through images, text, or other media formats.

    Whether or not you like porn, claiming that's it detrimental to society makes me wonder what else they deem objectionable.

  • You claim that "even at possibly the theoretically best efficiency, they cannot generate enough power per square meter than people consume per square meter". {ahem} The words "given current technology" are conspicuously missing from your post. Until corporations are given the correct incentives which recognise that future generations matter (despite being unable to vote or pay money), they will continue to underspend on developing technology to improve energy efficiency.

    BTW, there is no corporate conspiracy not to improve them just like there isn't a corporate conspiracy not to "break the speed of light" It's called the laws of physics.

    Oh yeh? And from which fundamental cosmological principles do you deduce your estimate of "the amount of power consumed by people per square meter"? You patronising prick. Who's this "people"? Chinese peasants? Indian cattle farmers? African subsistence farmers? Or are you, perhaps, referring to the amount of power consumed by the fat, greedy asses of USians, incapable of seeing the connection between ice cream and morbid obesity, let alone between carbon dioxide and global warming.

    Listen, you dickhead, you ought to think about the implications of your point. If it's true (which I doubt) that the theoretical maximum amount of energy realisable per square metre is less than that used by humans, then we're fucked. We don't have any other sources of energy that aren't finite. Now what was that I was saying about future generations?

  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @12:53AM (#868697) Journal
    Solar cell technology still has a long way to go because it still has one nasty catch:

    a solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.

    Solarhost is a good step forward to establishing a market value for the use of green-er power, but considering that the energy demand spurred by the 'net needs to demonstrate a much larger energy payoff, I'd be more game for hosting businesses that promise the state of the art in energy efficienct servers. (And for chip manufacturers that pay more attention to their wattage requirements and not worry so much about hertzage.)
  • Well to defend my original argument I am 179cm tall and whilst i'm not quite at your weight I can fit quite comfortably in the ford fiesta, ford ka and with a little discomfort the nissan micra. Anyway don't fat ppl have to pay double in aircraft and burn twice as many calories walking - your stature defines these things.

    I have seen people in scotland who live over 100 miles from the nearest supermarket, and on some of the outlying islands of scotland the petrol prices are closing in on $10 a gallon - not that they have many places to drive however :).

    As it stands i'm presently a student intern commuting out of edinburgh to linlithgow (about 25 miles maybe) and my round trip daily costs me about £7 or $11.

    Also whilst you might consider europe to have a higher overall population density you will also find that we dont have the big central hubs of population that america tends to have. Instead we have lots of spread out small villages which are equally hard to service as regards public transport. Where my parents live, about 30 mins drive from edinburgh, they have about 20 buses a week - and none at times that would support a regular job or social life.
  • First of all - this wasn't an argument about who's economy was stronger but more an argument about pollution and eco-friendliness.

    I think it's very narrowminded of you to believe that other economies dont depend on the price of fuel. I mean of course in scotland I grow my own wheat in the corner of my appartment so petrol prices dont affect the cost of bread... i mean come on!!

    Property prices here also vary based on the economy of the area. I reasonable-sized two bedroom flat costs about £500-650 a month to rent in this area (about $1k) whereas you can pay a lot less elsewhere in the country.

    In europe like most of the first world, half of the third world (and NOT the usa) are committed to lowering our output of polluting gases. As a result the governments here continually increase tax on fuel, we were hit by the OPAC increase too but it was comparatively insignificant against the general rises.

    Also whilst we are having this argument lets not forget that scotland are one of the largest oil producers in europe.

    When the oil starts to dry up and extraction costs raise 10-fold we will be in the fortunate position of only having a minor increase in price... then who'll be laughing as your economy topples. Sadly i'll be nearly dead by then :)
  • Hmmm if you level the middle east then where will you get oil from? The bomb doesn't really leave the most hospitable working conditions.

    OPEC aren't dumb. As the oil starts to run out they'll extract it slower and sell it higher either way you'll feel the brunt of their prices increases quicker.

    I just think it's pathetic that a country like america cares sufficiently little about the environment not to ratify the 1990 kyoto treaty which gives them 18 years (8 left) to reduce emissions by a mere 7%.

    We can sell you nice expensive scottish made oil, without OPEC we'd be in there :)
  • Q: What kind of machines would I put in a solar-powered colo?

    A: Sun boxen!

    Mwahahahaha.

    ---------///----------
    All generalizations are false.

  • Real Goods [realgoods.com] has a battery powered by the sun available. I can't get the link to format correctly (the link continues to the end of my post) :(, but if you search for laptop from the main page, you'll find it.

    I don't have a laptop, and, therefore, don't have one of these, but here's what they say about it: "Output of 13.8 watts will run some models better than others. At a minimum it will triple your run time on the internal battery, or recharge in twice the time required by an AC plug." It doesn't support every laptop, but I think it may be worth checking out.

  • I'm sort of afraid that the answers are:

    1. What's that got to do with solar panels? and
    2. What's that got to do with solar panels?

    All I'm saying is that any objection to protection on intellectual property in non-physical data doesn't necessarily translate to physical items.

  • by ripcrd ( 31538 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @05:07AM (#868717)
    I remember seeing an ad in a catalog from igo.com (they carry accessories for laptops, PDAs and cellphones) that showed a solar panel that was the size of a large novel. You unzip it and it opens up to have two solar panels for charging your cell batteries or your laptop. Good Luck. On a whim I went just now and here is the link:
    here for solar charger [igo.com]
  • It would be nice if we lived in a fairy tale world where we could completely solve all problems, but we don't.

    The 'Captain Planet' view of polluters - that they are mutant villains who enjoy destroying the environment because they somehow thrive on polluted air and water is not very accurate.

    In fact, automobiles are what cleaned up major cities in civilized countries. I know that is an outrageous sounding claim, but stop and think about it. If you really want to see pollution - replace all of the autos with horses.

    The disease spread by the flies which thrive on horse droppings would make an impact not only on quality of life but on the length of it.

    Every breath you take increases the CO2 load in the atmosphere with each exhale. Shall we all be required to wear some sort of catalytic converter to get rid of that CO2?

    Sorry, I'm not going to apologize for that CO2. Life produces waste products - it can't exist without them. The 'My feces smell like roses' attitude of many people in the environmental movement is more than a little annoying.

    Even plants pollute. The 'Blue Ridge' and 'Smokey' mountains in the US get their names from the layer of natural smog produced by the vegetation on them. (Ever smell a pine tree? That is a VOC you are smelling. Hit that VOC with sun light and you get smog.)

    This is a Yin and Yang world; you can only do so well before you reach the limits of what you can do. Any solution creates an element of a problem.

    Does this mean we ought to go back to the era of pre-pollution controlled cars? No - we can do better; for example adjust the ratio of NO to NO2 produced by the catalyst on a car and the automobile becomes a net DESTROYER of ozone; the amount of ozone created by exhaust products becomes less than the amount destroyed by combustion.

    By the way, for all of you in Europe complaining about us here in the States - it sounds like old fashioned jealousy to me; everybody hates the rich kid. Quit lying to yourselves, if you could live the way we do here - you would do it in a heartbeat. The Europeans who move here tend to drive big cars and otherwise behave just like the natives do. Sorry, I refuse to accept a load of guilt for living in the US.

    How many of you are willing to give up your Pentium III's and Athlons for less power consuming CMOS 8088's running at one Mhz? I thought so.

  • Has anyone ever noted that growing treas, making paper, and burying it rather than recylcing is about the only way there is to remove carbon from the atmosphere to forestall alleged global warming?

    You are either confused or trolling. The objective is to lower carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Loose carbon in the air is called soot, that's a different problem.

    Photosynthesis is the best way we have to do that. Trees that have been cut down and turned into paper (or houses, as discussed below) no longer photosynthesize (duh). Recycling paper leaves more trees around to continue photosynthesizing. It also creates less pollution and uses less energy than making paper from trees.

    Trees are also useful for harboring wildlife, preventing soil erosion, providing shade, blocking wind, and being generally pleasant all around. Hug a tree today.

    "Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does." -- George Bernard Shaw

  • They've got battery backup (charged off the solar cells) and emergency failover to a "nearby backup facility" (presumably a secondary site hosting the same material) that'll take over within a minute.

    Not sure how long the battery life is, but according to the article they're providing an SLA of "less than one hour downtime per year". That ain't half bad.
  • "(the sun is everywhere, unlike fossil fuels)"

    Heh, you've obviously never been in Scandinavia then. It's quite the opposite around here... ;-)

    More seriously I agree with the sentiment that we, the consumers, should be more aware of what we buy. NOT just for the external environment, but also for our internal environment (Just WHAT are we putting into our bodies anyways?) Consumer level awareness is very powerful in every ways, but who is controlling that awareness?

    Also, be aware that creating hype and focusing only of one set of arguments, we will just do new mistakes. For example in Norway, we have just about made a power station out of every water-fall we got in this country. Also, there are plans on making huge arrays of wind-mills. This may be more "cleaner" than fossile fuels, but it's butt ugly and create problems for the surrounding area.

    So what problems do we want to "get rid of", and what problems do we create by doing so? THAT should be on the agenda.

    This applies to everybody, but especially to Germany. Being in a transition to abolish all nuclear power (deadline around 2020 IIRC), what will this be replaced with?

    - Steeltoe
  • by vapour ( 102049 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:07AM (#868728)
    Wind has been used as an energy source for thousands of years. Up to 4000 years ago, the Babylonians and the Chinese used wind power to pump water for crops, and sailing boats were around long before that.
    Wind power was used in Europe in the middle ages to mill (meaning grind) grain. This is where the term windmill comes from.

    Micro hydro power is probably the least common of the three readily used renewable energy sources, but it has the potential to produce the most power, more reliably than solar or wind power if you have the right site. This means having access to a river or creek that has a high enough flow to produce useable power for a good part of the year. Many creeks and rivers are permanent, ie, they never dry up, and these are the most suitable for micro-hydro power production.
  • by Elvis Maximus ( 193433 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:09AM (#868729) Homepage

    There was recently an article on CNN.com [cnn.com] about European electricity providers being very concerned that an explosion of planned colocation facilities will strain the European grid to its limit. This is something we (or I, anyway) don't think about very much. There is a lot of talk about all the money and energy saved by the efficiencies of the "Internet economy," but all the powerful (and hot) equipment running the "Internet economy" must be using an enormous amount of power.

    Does anyone know of any reliable estimates to how much power is being consumed by Internet-related hardware?

    -

  • a solar cell today still takes more energy to manufacture than it will produce in its usable life.
    I'm not sure if this is true, but if it is it is very interesting, and significant. The key words for evomental energy conservationists are renewable and self-sustaning and manifacture is often forgoten when evaluating these technologies.

    For instance, it was recently exposed that some manifactorers of the catalitic converters, which, if I recall correctly, is mandated on all new cars, where causing more polution than the use of the cat could ever prevent. In the end the proccesses where fixed, or different suppliers chosen.

    There is an upside to this, if manifacture of solar pannels, rises then there will be more motivation to reduce costs and increase effecency.

    Thad

  • by Ayon Rantz ( 210766 ) <qristus@hotmail.com> on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:16AM (#868732) Homepage
    "Right now millions of machines and web sites pollute every day," says Overman, alluding to their dependence on electric power plants that produce carbon dioxide.

    And here I always thought power plants produced electricity.. Well, I guess this is a good thing and all, but computers aren't exactly very power-hungry.. According to Alternative Power Systems [podnine.com], a home computer consumes 80-150 W/hr, which isn't much compared to air conditioning, electric heating, the light bulbs in your home, etc..

    To make a difference with things like this, they need to suply power to a lot more than a small set of low-consumption computers. I seriously suspect these people of being more interested in doing CGI programming at 75$/hr [solarhost.com] than protecting the environment.. Besides, they're not even running Solaris [netcraft.com] :)

    What we need are huge solar panels in space and wireless transmission of power down here to juice the stuff that eats a bit more than the websites.. But I guess that's not as profitable as selling "Powered by the sun" stickers to e-businesses ;)
    --

  • by ekmo ( 128842 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:17AM (#868734)

    This give a whole new meaning to "This website is powered by Sun."
  • Solarhost specifically says they're using solar cells, hence my comment.

    As for mirror farms, they indeed rock.
  • Not too many people in the Nort East, but apparently quite a few in the south, use heat-pumps to regulate home and water temperatures in their homes.

    The way the system works is this: A sealed water circuit is run from the basement of the home down to several feet under the frost-line. There, there is a cistern that stays at a very constant temperature, somewherein the 50 degree range, year round. The water is circulated to a cooling, or heating unit via a heat-exchanger (sort of like an A/C and radiator). The temp difference provides a good deal of the energy for the system, so there is less need for a power hungry heater/compressor.

    Now, my question is this: Since electrical power is used to drive a Peltier type cooler (used for CPU cooling), and since an inverse temperature difference accross a Peltier junction (cooling the hot side, heating the cool side) will cause the device to generate power.. Why not use a large-scale Peltier device, in conjunction with a geothermal heat-pump as described above, to run the CoLo facility?

    Seriously, put one in Greenland and Scandinavia, where the temperature difference is more significant than in the temperate zones... They already make heavy use of geothermal out there anyway...
  • Given the cost/inefficiency of solar cells, and
    the huge area required to get reasonable amounts
    of power, I think the solution to being environmentally friendly is to do two things:
    generate power locally (avoiding distribution losses) and minimize power use.

    1) Onsite generation of power avoids the ~30%
    distribution losses. Running, say, natural gas
    turbines onsite is cleaner than grid
    generation sources as a whole (assuming you're
    not in a nuclear area), and 30% efficiency gains
    really add up. Waste heat in cogen can be used
    to run chillers to cool the machines as well,
    decreasing power demands. Onsite generation is
    MUCH more reliable than grid power, assuming you
    invest substantially in plant, staff, and
    maintenance. Power can be sold back to the grid
    if you are grid-connected. Cogen can be 90%
    efficient if you include thermal energy, vs.
    say 20% electrical energy from fuels burned in
    remote power plants.

    2) Minimize power use: this is tricky for a colo.
    A lot of machines today are 200-300W each, but
    there are alternatives, such as the Sun Netra T1
    1U server, which only draw 30W. Decreased power
    use also means decreased power consumption, which
    is good.

    One can also be efficient in cooling, using water-cooled chillers which heat-exchange with
    natural bodies of water (lake, pond, North Sea),
    only providing cooling where needed, rather than
    in hallways, etc., using proper insulation of
    cooled areas, etc. Using onsite power storage,
    even if generally powered from the grid, allows
    purchasing power during off-peak periods...do
    something like pump from one reservoir to another
    higher up during the night, and run a generator
    from the flowing water during the day.

    3) One could always move to Iceland :) Geothermal
    power is really nice. A lot of energy-intensive
    industries were attracted to Iceland
    (bauxite -> aluminum conversion, future planned
    hydrogen production) by the US$0.01/KWh power. I
    used to live in a country with US$0.35/KWh
    electricity (Anguilla), and I must say, Iceland
    is very attractive. Other good places would be
    to set up near hydroelectric dams, in countries
    like France which generate a lot of power from
    clean nuclear reactors, etc.

    If any of my customers cared enough to pay for it,
    I'd put in a wind turbine and/or solar to augment
    our cogeneration plant, to offset their own use.
    I've experimented with wind and solar before,
    and they're not suitable as a 100% site power
    solution, but to augment fossil fuels, they're
    quite nice.
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2000 @01:28AM (#868750) Homepage Journal
    What i would like to see if just what would happen to emissions if petrol/gasoline prices were raised to the UK level across the globe.

    I just about died laughing when i saw on some online forum an american complaining about the fact it now cost him 20 bucks to fill up his pickup truck.

    What the american government dont seem to realise (probably because they are too busy trying to get india and china to cut their own output) is that in other countries we do buy more efficient cars. Last time I was in california we were given a car with a 2.6 litre engine, which by british standards is pretty unthinkable. Considering i'm used to driving cars in the 1.1->1.3l bracket that's a big difference and it still doesn't stop me driving at 85 mph down the road to work.

    Last time I filled my car up it cost me 40 bucks (25 pounds) (ford fiesta 1.3) and i'd love to see the effect on the USA if they were given our $6 gallon :)
  • From their FAQ:
    Are there restrictions on website content?
    Yes, SolarHost will not provide services for websites that are detrimental to society, such as those displaying adult/pornographic material, hate sites, or other illegal content through images, text, or other media formats.
    Yeah, these solar-powered servers are great, but as long as we have those detrimental adults and their content sitting around, we'll never get anywhere!

    #ruet

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