Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Measuring carbon emissions: How can business really be accurate?

Guy Ruddock, Vice President for design, delivery and operations at Colt Data Centre Services discusses the impact of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme league tables:

The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently published the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme performance league tables which has ranked companies according to their carbon emissions. While the programme is aimed at improving energy efficiency and cutting emissions in large public and private sector organisations, some believe there are alternative and more effective ways of doing this.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Energy (DoE) issued recommendations for measuring and publishing energy efficiency in Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) for all data centres with the aim of delivering a consistent and repeatable measurement strategy that allows data centre operators to monitor and improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. The DoE has openly recognised how effective PUE is but the question remains as to which measurement should be used in the UK. Should we follow the US example of using PUE or stick to the controversial CRC scheme?

The issue with the CRC, which was introduced in 2010 with its allowance sales coming into effect in 2012, is that it doesn’t address key challenges at the heart of the energy problem including, the role of data centre outsourcers, increasing power costs, and the benefits of renewable and sustainable power resources in addition to heat reuse and water use.

Taking all this into consideration, it could be said that the CRC is placing a disproportionate focus on rewarding participants who meet their pre-defined narrow ‘Early Action’ metrics, despite them achieving minimal carbon savings. For example, as one part of these metrics, an organisation can, by simply replacing two manually read meters with automated ones, achieve 50 percent of the total ‘Early Action’ metrics and under the current scheme. This means they would be excessively rewarded for very little effort and insignificant carbon savings.

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