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China's Green Data Center Plans

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ho-ho-ho-green-giant dept.

China 45

itwbennett writes "It's no surprise that China's internet-using population is growing fast. And so it's also no surprise that the country is planning to build new data centers by the dozen. What is surprising, at least to those of us who expect to read stories about widespread pollution in China, is that China is working with both The Green Grid and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop standards for energy performance."

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First? (-1)

gmanterry (1141623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561436)

Could I be first the first of the year?

Re:First? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38561466)

(by gmanterry (1141623) on Monday January 02, @01:40AM (#38561436) Journal)

Could I be first the first of the year?

I'm going to guess that no, you did not get the first of the year.

Nothing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38561438)

www.freeandroidappz.com

Not that suprising (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38561470)

China is the largest investor in renewable energy of any country in the world.

FTFY (3, Insightful)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561784)

China is the largest investor in renewable energy of any country in the world.[citation needed]

Citation provided. (4, Funny)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561962)

China is the largest investor in renewable energy of any country in the world.[citation needed]

China is the largest investor in renewable energy of any country in the world.[1]

[1] http://hardware.slashdot.org [slashdot.org] 2 Jan 2012.

Re:FTFY (4, Informative)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562176)

[1] China leads world in green energy investment [bbc.co.uk]
[2] Top Countries For Renewable Energy Capacity [curiouscatblog.net]
[3] Actually, China accounts for 70% of green energy investment [theclimategroup.org]

China is still suppressing it's currency (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562314)

(Most of the time, recently they've been dumping to counter the bubble bursting)

So imports are more expensive than they would be if it was allowed to find it's own level. Coal, oil are substantial inflows. By making use of "green" energy using locally produced products, they can continue to suppress their currency for longer, with the benefits to labour costs that implies to the rest of the world.

Re:Not that suprising (4, Insightful)

vought (160908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561970)

China is the largest investor in renewable energy of any country in the world.

China is also the largest provider of toxic adulterants in exports. They build factories where people are given 15-minute breaks twice a day to urinate and defecate, and four hours to sleep. Western companies make a show of trying to police these factories, but when it comes down to brass tacks, there are simply too many factories, too many bodies, and not enough oversight for any of it to make a lot of difference. The solution to factory suicides in China? Bars on the windows.

Because we're apparently now a nation that simply consumes things made elsewhere - mostly China, it seems at times - it's easiest to just trust them when it comes to things like baby formula (melamine), pet food (more melamine), drywall (formaldehyde and H2S), paint on toys (lead)....and when your relatives get sick because they can't breathe due to the toxic wallboard, well, there's no one to sue for recovery of lost money, time, and health. Oh, well!

The Chinese culture does not define trust the same way Western societies do. Most of their factories are owned by former military generals. The standards being developed will come with lots of access to LBNL's own methodologies, networks, people, and other trusted entities, which China will be happy to use for their own benefit.

Trust me on this.

Re:Not that suprising (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562832)

They build factories where people are given 15-minute breaks twice a day to urinate and defecate, and four hours to sleep.

A human being cannot live like that, their workers would simply fall asleep at their jobs. Not very good for productivity. I'm not saying China doesn't have some really awful factories, but making stuff up isn't very helpful to the debate.

The government has been clamping down hard on factories that have really poor conditions. They have to, otherwise big western companies wouldn't do manufacturing there and would instead go to India or Africa or South America or Eastern Europe.

there are simply too many factories, too many bodies, and not enough oversight for any of it to make a lot of difference.

Are you kidding? The Chinese government has party members everywhere, and they love to be seen to be doing their jobs. Naturally there is corruption, but we are talking about a government that has managed to introduce a one-child policy and enforce it with much success.

The solution to factory suicides in China? Bars on the windows.

We do that too in places where we know people might try to kill themselves. You fell for that classic trick I'm afraid, one that the media loves to use. In actual fact Foxxcon did take other measures to reduce the suicide rate, and it seems to have worked to some considerable extent.

it's easiest to just trust them when it comes to things like baby formula (melamine)

You know those guys were executed for their crimes, right? Talk about corporations being held accountable.

paint on toys (lead)

A few decades ago perhaps but they stopped doing it way back. They had to or they couldn't sell toys to the developed world. No-one makes lead paint any more, except for very special applications where it is more expensive than non-lead paint.

Look, I'm not saying China doesn't do a lot of bad stuff, but making things up isn't helpful. And in fact there are some good Chinese companies who make some really nice products, and conditions have improved a lot in their factories.

Re:Not that suprising (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38563564)

They build factories where people are given 15-minute breaks twice a day to urinate and defecate, and four hours to sleep.

A human being cannot live like that, their workers would simply fall asleep at their jobs.

When they use them up, they send them off to have any non-failing organs harvested in a death van [dailymail.co.uk] .

there are simply too many factories, too many bodies, and not enough oversight for any of it to make a lot of difference.

Are you kidding? The Chinese government has party members everywhere, and they love to be seen to be doing their jobs. Naturally there is corruption, but we are talking about a government that has managed to introduce a one-child policy and enforce it with much success.

Having enough warm bodies and fervor to do the job and not having the job done are not contradictory statements. Try again.

The solution to factory suicides in China? Bars on the windows.

We do that too in places where we know people might try to kill themselves.

The difference is that our employees are allowed to quit their jobs and go home.

it's easiest to just trust them when it comes to things like baby formula (melamine)

You know those guys were executed for their crimes, right? Talk about corporations being held accountable.

You know that capital punishment doesn't dissuade criminals, right? There's always someone who thinks they won't get caught. Also, I know that someone was killed, I don't know that it's actually whoever was really responsible.

paint on toys (lead)

A few decades ago perhaps but they stopped doing it way back. They had to or they couldn't sell toys to the developed world. No-one makes lead paint any more, except for very special applications where it is more expensive than non-lead paint.

Now I know you're a total fuckbag shill asshole, because this is provably untrue. You can get on the CPSC mailing list and you will get a continual stream of recalls for lead paint, and literally ALL of it comes from China. Much of it is sold at Dollar Tree locations nationwide. Most of it is children's projects, like colorful notebook covers that will be fondled and possibly chewed on.

Fuck off and tell your lies somewhere else. We've enough here already.

Re:Not that suprising (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38564152)

but we are talking about a government that has managed to introduce a one-child policy and enforce it with much success.

Not all that much success. If it were successful, China's population would be undergoing a drastic decline.

Instead, population is growing at about 0.5% per year. Which is low, but consistent with 2+ children per family, not one. Note that breakeven - the classic ZPG - requires ~2.1 children per family....

Re:Not that suprising (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38565158)

Most of their factories are owned by former military generals.

[Huawei? Maybe. "Most"? Citation needed]

Most of their factories, especially the ones exporting, are owned by Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean and Hong Konger. And they are the ones

build factories where people are given 15-minute breaks twice a day to urinate and defecate, and four hours to sleep.

No matter what conditions the workers are in, most of them are free to leave and find another job, just like if you don't like your boss you can leave and find another job, ever since the economic reform. The problem is that they can't find other good jobs. The labor situation, like most other problems in China, is simply a problem of supply-and-demand. There are 1 billion people looking for works. I'm not sure why that's hard to understand. And the Chinese government is working to solve this ultimate problem to your flavor, in a way you don't like -- forced family planning.

Re:Not that suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562826)

More importantly, China is also the leading investor in nuclear, including an aggressive molten salt reactor program.

Of course, China will always be happy to sell overpriced "renewables" to fools who insist on ruining their economies and destroying their prosperity.

Meh (4, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561472)

It will probably end up being lead based paint tinted green with used radiator fluid

No mystery here. (5, Informative)

Mannfred (2543170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561506)

Energy performance is especially relevant when faced with high energy costs. From thegreengrid.org's press release: "The Green Grid will help promote the improvement of resource efficiency in business computing throughout China, a country with huge potential for energy efficiency increases."

Re:No mystery here. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561526)

and it's not like china is opposed to clean energy, they're just cheap and corrupt, so at least one part of their society is trying, which is better than nothing.

Re:No mystery here. (5, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561734)

They've been getting low on coal every now and then - as in burning coal faster than they can get it (from their own mines and other places). They're using so much energy that they even run out of dirty energy, so they need to reduce consumption and also add clean energy.

http://news.theage.com.au/business/china-coal-shortage-to-continue-20080116-1m7u.html [theage.com.au]
http://www.smh.com.au/business/world-business/coal-shortage-causes-power-cuts-in-china-20101221-193d5.html [smh.com.au]
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/18/china-power-shortage-idUSL3E7FI1ED20110418 [reuters.com]
Consuming less energy = consuming less coal = fewer power cuts = fewer pissed off people = easier and more peaceful reign for those at the top.

IIRC Japan is many times more efficient in terms of productivity (goods, GDP etc) vs energy used. So there's actually quite a lot of room for improvement in terms of energy efficiency.

They've also been working on building lots of nuclear reactors. Hope they get those right though, or there'll be major disasters (China does get big quakes).

Re:No mystery here. (1, Informative)

vought (160908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562002)

They've been getting low on coal every now and then

Probably because their disregard for human life and sloppy, fast and loose mining practices [usmra.com] inevitably leads to huge accidents with hundreds killed...just last month. You should see the totals since 2005.

No biggie though! Yay China! More cheap electronics, please!

Re:No mystery here. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562398)

Look at the bottom. [wikipedia.org]
That says it all. China is a disaster.

Re:No mystery here. (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38564758)

and it's not like china is opposed to clean energy, they're just cheap and corrupt

**sniff** These emerging economies grow up so fast! **wipes tear**

Re:No mystery here. (-1, Offtopic)

bhppt (2540912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561668)

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Re:No mystery here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562344)

China faces a major problem if they really want to raise the standard of living to European standards. European per capita energy consumption is around 6 kW (nevermind the US at 14 kW). In China, it's around 1.5 kW. Some parts of China are already 'modernized,' but there remains a lot of very rustic territory and population. They already import about a billion barrels of oil per year (2 Mbpd) and about 180 Mtons of coal (500 kton/d). From a national priorities perspective, China has a huge incentive to develop internal energy sources and prevent themselves from sending all that foreign currency back out to the Middle East and Australia.

Going the right direction (5, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561560)

From a regulatory standpoint, the most important thing isn't the effectiveness, it's the standards used to gauge effectiveness. If you want the right answer, you have to start by asking the right questions.

Is datacenter efficiency important? Doesn't appear to be so from where I sit. We host a significant number of servers in a local (Sacramento) colo, and we buy contracts for bandwidth and power. The charges we pay are rather small given the size of our company, the actual power costs are infinitesimal compared to the other costs that we have to do business. I care not a whit about power costs, given that our marginal costs are so low compared to the value we present.

Is it important? Sure! But in the USA, we have no operational standards for what constitutes "green" data center technologies. If there was an actual standard for DC power, I'd consider buying servers with DC power inputs, etc...

Re:Going the right direction (5, Informative)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561690)

You don't have to do DC to be reasonably green. DC still has a number of issues, including safety. And just having DC alone does not make it green (you have to do DC smartly).

Just being smart about AC as well as the cooling systems can make improvements. For example, run your servers on 208 or 240 volts instead of 120 volts. And if you are building a new data center in North America, get your power from the utility at three phase 416Y/240 volts instead of 208Y/120 volts for the computer room (get separate 208Y/120 volts for the offices where needs for 120 is common). Use lights-out platforming as much as you can (last one out turn out the lights).

Use UPSes that can switch to "line interactive mode" instead of doing everything in "double conversion". Only extremely sensitive equipment needs double conversion all the time Don't do "whole data center" UPSes because you lose the ability to gradually migrate to greener models over time. About one UPS per rack should be sufficient.

Split your cooling load across multiple systems so the temperature stays more stable (one giant HVAC causes temperatures to go up and down a lot). Once stable, you can target the temperature at a higher level.

Re:Going the right direction (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561760)

They can also copy some ideas from Facebook (or others):
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2011/12/facebook-data-center/all/1 [wired.com]
http://opencompute.org/ [opencompute.org]
http://opencompute.org/2011/11/17/learning-lessons-at-the-prineville-data-center/ [opencompute.org]

They'd probably have to modify the air filter/intake sections since in many places the air there is rather dirty. And sometimes it's not just "conventional" pollution but dust/sand blown in from the desert areas

Re:Going the right direction (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561990)

Not everyone can go to that scale. I'm glad Facebook did, and hope more do. I looked at it a while back for what my job involves. It is not dismissed, but we can't do that right now. As more of that reaches commercial off the shelf markets, we can do more. More mainboards that use a DC voltage coming in mean more opportunity to reduce the conversion steps that waste the most power. But for various reasons I would never do DC above 48 volts. I have determined that the likely optimal voltage for powering a mainboard directly at one DC voltage is around 16-18 volts. That's way too low for a data center wide DC bus. But I'd never do that even at 48 volts because of the current hazard and conductor heat loss, or 380 volts because of the voltage hazard.

I'll stay with AC at the data center scale, even with a small data center. What I'd avoid is too many conversion steps. Just convert utility street distribution voltage to line voltage (416/240 in three phase, even in USA where you can get it) and bring that to each cabinet. Then convert AC to DC per cabinet or per blade frame (minimal DC fault current and at mainboard voltage). Design the blade frames so they can accept battery pack blades in each slot. Plug in CPU blades and/or battery blades in the balance you need between CPU capacity vs. battery capacity.

Re:Going the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562412)

Actually, the Open Compute platform (which I've actually had my hands on) uses 277vac +48v dc power supplies (277v is one leg off a 480v 3 phase line. More common than 416v) and the 48v dc is fed directly from batteries for backup (1 battery pack per 3 cabinets). No ups.

While using the whole chiller-less cooling system is probably a bit much for smaller datacenters, eliminating the 480->240 volt transformers, and UPS'es is doable for smaller installations.

Re:Going the right direction (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38565386)

I guess you missed the point that as a small(ish) hosting provider, I don't care at all about 240 volt power systems! I have small cage with a few 42u racks to manage, and companies approximately this size and smaller represent a very significant percent of the colo marketplace, perhaps even a majority of the colo marketplace.

At this size and scale, we don't care about green, we care about whether or not it works. Even if we were to cut 75% of the power usage, the money saved would pale compared to our other costs and the relatively high cost of experimenting with power saving solutions is a terrible investment of time and resources.

Which is why I said that the Chinese are on the right track. By creating industry-wide standards for efficient power consumption, China establishes a clear signal to the marketplace for what to do in order to produce power-efficient solutions for the myriad of smaller clients who (like me) don't want to invest lots of time to save power but are happy and willing to buy it if available.

It's really what we need to do here as well. It's important for the industry to sort this out. But it's not reasonable to ask customers (especially smaller customers) to sort this out.

Re:Going the right direction (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38561916)

Monetary cost is one thing... efficiency, sustainability, availability and environmental impact are another. The purpose of green energy isn't to save money (in fact, in many industrial applications of sustainable models, implementation and operational monetary costs are higher than the competing and existing models). It's about ensuring longevity by using methods which either integrate with the organic processes of nature, or minimize the impact on said processes by being more efficient and less destructive; whether it's energy production, materials production, transportation and infrastructure development, communication, consumption, waste/bi-product management, metropolitan development... whatever. The grand idea is appreciation of the interconnectedness of all of the world's biological, geological, and technological systems. Not to sound like an environmental fanatic or a tree hugger, but ultimately all of our stuff, and the ways we make it and move it around, depends on the Earth carrying out its own natural processes. Everything we do impacts those processes in some way, so it's in humanity's interest and the world's interest to reduce the destructive impacts and use non-destructive means whenever possible, to ensure that the big rock can keep up with our ever-increasing demand.
So what you say is true, from a financial perspective it may not be important. But from China's perspective - a nation of over a billion people that is rapidly expanding and growing and industrializing - throughput of energy, the impact of its availability and consumption, and the efficiency at which it is consumed is terribly important. As mentioned, they are making efforts to be "green" and efficient in many industries - data centers are just one more place to do that.

China is going Green. (0)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561642)

Does this make them eligible for US $(green) giveaways?

sounds good but... (0)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561832)

how many corners are going to be cut while making these datacenters?

there is a serious cultural problem in China where people think that cheating people and cutting corners is ok.

Re:sounds good but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38561906)

While true, they do manage to pull of some serious stuff, e.g. numerous nuclear plants, huge dams, fancy building like the birds nest, etc. Just because corruption is cultural and wide-spread doesn't mean it can't be managed.

Re:sounds good but... (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562016)

China does not have a monopoly on that. They didn't even create it. Cutting corners and cheating people existed in the industrial boom of the 19th century in the US, as carried out by big corporations. Even today that is still going on. And it's not just in technology. Financial services is doing this big time. China is just copying it.

Re:sounds good but... (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562222)

i know what you are saying but you dont understand the magnitude of this problem in China. did you see the related story, "One Tenth of China's Farmland Polluted With Heavy Metals"? now sit down and shut up.

Chinese are pragmatic (4, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38561966)

Chinese are pragmatic, or at least the government.

They realize that if they will need to provide a future for 1.x billion people they need to do something about the local environment.

Climate change appears to be another matter on today's agenda. But, I'm sure that will change too. There are other large pollutors which will be more difficult to change, despite having a better general awareness.

Re:Chinese are pragmatic (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562070)

The environment has something to do with it ... hey they do sell to the rest of the world. Image is important.

But another driver is efficiency. Bottom line, if you reduce the inputs to a product it becomes cheaper to produce. Use less energy, use less materials ... and the product cost comes down.

That's one reason I've been surprised by resistance amongst Western countries to environment and climate treaties. I mean, all they are being asked to do is either substitute energy sources (expensive any way you look at it), or to reduce energy use (thereby making their production process more efficient and cost effective).

Then again, I suppose Western countries aren't producing much in the way of product nowadays and don't plan to make their processes more efficient anyway.

Re:Chinese are pragmatic (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562694)

Then again, I suppose Western countries aren't producing much in the way of product nowadays and don't plan to make their processes more efficient anyway.

Did you know that Germany exports more than China does? Japan makes a lot of stuff too. Developed economies can make stuff if they want to, they just have to avoid getting into a race to the bottom with places like China and India. Being efficient and meeting consumer demand for greener and more "ethical" (i.e. non-sweatshop made) products is hugely important.

That is one of the reasons that German is seeking to replace nuclear and much of its fossil energy sources with green ones. Aside from benefiting the Germany's image and being the right thing to do it is also a huge economic boost that ensures Germany will be one of the world's leading providers of electricity generation technology and equipment in this century. China sees their chance to have a chunk of that market too so is now pushing green tech.

China realises that as living standards and wages come up they will have to become more like Germany and make high tech, high value products. The Chinese government is a lot more canny when it comes to economics than people give it credit for.

Re:Chinese are pragmatic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562080)

What is a bit worrying is that the common people on the street do not care about pollution. Or at least not enough. I never set a foot in the US, but found that in Europe people clean up their mess. Mostly (some countries are worse). People think about what they throw in the garbage tray and are generally mindful of not using needless amounts of energy.

Things you will see in China on an everyday basis is:
- People throwing garbage out of their houses on the street (not my problem attitude).
- Opening windows and turning on air-conditioning at the same time. Both in summer and in winter.
- Leaving PCs, TVs and what not running all the time, whether you use it or not.
- Throwing the most horrible poisons, or glass, or needles, or whatever in the garbage (I worked in a chemistry lab). Rules work, until you turn your back for 5 min.
- Also, whatever you do, you must absolutely have a big car. Or two...
- Absolutely no idea what you are talking about when you try to explain this kind of behaviour does not a good society make...

This is just the normal man/woman in the street. I am not even talking about industry and how they deal with toxic waste (hint: it is more or less the same).

I only met a fraction of the people here (obviously), but if a fifth of the world population behaves like this. I despair...

Re:Chinese are pragmatic (3, Informative)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562392)

Do not despair, India is much worse and they will soon outnumber China.

china's huge population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38562320)

china has a lot of population.,probably thats why they are aiming at green ways to conserve energy
just cause 2 [com.com]

surprising? (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562506)

For whom is that surprising?

China is huge - four to five times the population of the USA. Any attempt to clean up existing problems while at the same time realising record growth year-after-year is a mean task. So concentrating on making new things future-proof is the best approach. If you are good there, it may turn out that replacing the old, dirty stuff is better than modernizing it.

And the chinese government, for all the faults it has, is certainly one of the best governments in regards to long-term planning right now. Other than most of the career politicians in the west, they regularily look beyond the next election.

Wow, That's Complicated (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38562808)

I thought 1.4 billion people were polluting and used coal. Now you tell me 1.4 billion people are investing in clean energy data centers. Maybe the 1.4 billion people are being dishonest? Or maybe the 1.4 billion people have really changed for the good? What are we the 320M people in USA supposed to say? We need one answer. Is China good or bad? When apparently good, is it directly good, or alternating?
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