Sunday, 2 December 2012

What will you do with 1 TeraWattHour of Electric Energy?

DatacenterDynamics reports that in 2012 data centers across the globe have consumed 322 TeraWattHours of electric energy. [Even experts seem to be confused between units of Power and Energy. We'll stay puritan-istic in this regard and measure Electric Energy in Watt-Hours and Electric Power in Watts.]

If we assume that this is the energy in its aggregate form drawn from the grid, the sad news is only about 100 TWh would've really got used - the remaining having been wasted in various stages. [Refer Schneider's calculations in this regard on how energy is wasted in data centers.]

That being the point, I was just wondering how much is really 1 TeraWattHour of Electric Energy?

Firstly, what would it take to generate that much of electricity? Here are some options...

  • Nuclear generation: Run one of the two 1,000 MegaWatt units of Kudankulam Nuclear Plant at full capacity for 1,000 hours = 42 days on a 24x7 basis
  • Thermal generation: Burn 149x3 ~ 450 Kilotonnes of Coal [assuming 6.67 KWh/Kg of energy per Kg of coal and 30% as the thermodynamic efficiency of thermal power plants] 
  • Solar generation: Roughly 220 Sq.Km of Solar Panels [assuming 70 MilliWatts/Sq.Inch]

What can I do with it if I weren't running data centers? Well, to begin with, I can burn a tubelight or run a laptop at full power for 2.8 million years on a 24x7x365 basis. In other words, 5.6 Million houses can have at least 1 tubelight burning throughout the year for 12 hours a day - enough for 10 Million children to study if we assume each house has 2 children !

We invented the Internet and then Mobile telephony. Somewhere in between the bankers said - "High Availability and Zero Data Loss". Haven't we made the world a little too complicated in trying to make it a smarter planet? Now you know why few of us are spending sleepless nights over reducing power consumption of IT infrastructure. People today question us on return on investment when we offer IPMPlus at highly affordable prices - tomorrow there may be no choice :)

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