There is still a considerable distance between the feeling of sustainability and corporate action. Innovative green technologies, including energy-efficient supercomputers, low-emission data centers, computational fluid dynamics simulations and circular design, are helping to bridge this gap.
Consider the statistics. Two-thirds of executives surveyed in the Deloitte CxO 2022 Sustainability Report say they are “very concerned” about climate change, with 79% seeing the world at a tipping point, up from 59% in 2021. Although concern is on the rise, only 19% of respondents say they use most known strategies for “moving the needle”.
Needle-moving actions include developing climate-friendly products or services and setting sustainability criteria for suppliers and partners. Here we explore four key examples of implementing green technologies across sectors, from IT to finance to energy, that can have a significant impact on sustainability.
Researchers at University of Cambridge have developed the largest academic supercomputer in the UK to solve complex problems including the design of nuclear fusion reactors to deal with the energy crisis.
“This really revolutionizes what our researchers can do,” said Dr. Paul Calleja, director of Research Computing Services at the University of Cambridge. The university’s system, which uses 100 racks in its data center and consists of 2,500 servers, can support more than 3,000 academics and 700 research projects worldwide.
It’s also worth noting that the system was designed to double the power efficiency while delivering five times the simulation capability and 20 times the AI performance of the previous platform.
“This has allowed us to have the third most energy-efficient supercomputer in the world, ranked in [a recent] International Green 500 Competition,” said Calleja who describes the setup as a heterogeneous cluster built using GPUs on an HDR 200 InfiniBand fabric. “It’s very difficult to get a single solution now, because different problems require different solutions. By working with Dell, we can combine these solutions into one system. »
While traditional HPC systems consume 20 to 30 megawatts of energy, Calleja considers this rate “unsustainable,” and it’s part of what prompts his team to “examine how we can reduce the energy footprint” of supercomputers.
Reduce data center emissions
Participants at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow highlighted the crucial role of business and financial institutions to accelerate the transition to net zero. Some financial institutions are now working to accelerate sustainability within their operations, including modern approaches to power-intensive data centers.
A bank, BNP Paribas, is sustaining its HPC infrastructure by relocating a third of its capacity from Grid Computing Datacenters to Iceland. BNP Paribas, a globally recognized leader in capital markets, securities services, financing, treasury and advisory solutions, is present in 56 countries and serves 18,000 clients.
The data center move can be just in time. Researchers from Huawei Technologies Sweden predicted that, given the rapid growth of cloud computing, data centers could consume 8% of the world’s electricity by 2030.
“By moving data center operations to atNorth in Iceland, harnessing renewable energy sources, BNP Paribas reduced its total cost of ownership, with 50% less energy and 85% less CO2 emissions,” said Gisli Kr., commercial director. to northern data centers. AtNorth’s engineering teams work with Dell to deliver tailored infrastructure that matches customer needs and leverages efficient design.
Iceland’s Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation, Þórdís Kolbrú, said in an interview with Future Banking TV, which she considers a win-win situation: “Iceland is a leader in green energy. One hundred percent of our electricity is renewable, the cold climate is a competitive advantage and our electricity prices are competitive. Then you add the new data connection directly from Iceland to Ireland. »
Simulate the impact
Governments around the world are passing net zero laws that will limit the use of fossil fuels to mitigate the effects of climate change. A company finds cost-effective solutions for reducing emissions and improving combustion in the power generation sector, using HPC capabilities to simulate the impact of decarbonization.
Over the past ten years, RJM International has helped power plants assess the opportunities, as well as the challenges, that come with co-firing or a complete conversion to biomass. The United States Energy Information Administration considers plants a carbon-neutral source of energy because they capture the same amount of CO2 during growth that is released when burned as biomass. By contrast, burning one metric ton of coal will release approximately 2.8 metric tons of CO2.
For power plant customers preparing prototypes, RJM International analyzes existing operational systems and simulates new solutions. Using its HPC cluster, RJM teams can complete the series of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations in a day, a process that previously took a week.
“Simulations are becoming increasingly large and complex for the coal, oil, gas and biomass industries looking to improve new or aging combustion plants,” said Anura Perera, Principal CFD Engineer at RJM International. “Our HPC cluster allows us to produce a greater number of simulations at a much faster rate than before and helps support the resolution of complex emissions problems for our customers.”
RJM International’s HPC system is comprised of Dell PowerEdge servers and Mellanox’s InfiniBand EDR. The solution uses ANSYS Fluent and ANSYS HPC applications and OCF’s HPC management software stack which includes management, monitoring and reporting tools.
“RJM International plays a key role in improving efficiency, enabling a low-carbon economy and reducing pollution,” said Russell Slack, CEO of OCF. “Its commitment to HPC technology puts it at the forefront of the energy industry and enables it to significantly improve the capability and complexity of CFD simulations for new projects.”
Supporting a circular economy
A recent Durability time article noted that “sustainable technology can help identify areas for improvement, including where businesses can reduce unnecessary waste.” A leading manufacturer of HPC appliances, storage and servers is reducing waste or preventing it altogether by using circular design tactics.
Dell engineers consider sustainability at every stage of a product’s life cycle with the goal of achieving zero waste by ensuring that every part of its products can be reused or recycled. For example, more than 90% of a typical Dell laptop is recyclable, and the company uses 27 million pounds of sustainable materials in its products.
When products reach end of life, the company makes it easy for customers to recycle with simple, comprehensive take-back options. Some of the materials are sent back to the start of its production process while others are sold to other companies for use in their products.
Beyond products, sustainable business models and technologies like cloud computing, virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions can help reduce the physical nature of value creation.
When it comes to enable the circular economy within an organization and taking other sustainability actions to bridge the gap between ambition and impact, John Pflueger, senior environmental strategist at Dell Technologies, offers this advice: “You’re already playing a role, whether you know it or not. So understand it. Be aware of this. Make the decisions that are right for you and make the decisions that are right for your business, but make them consciously. Know what your connection is and what you want that connection to be down the line.
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