Yesterday, the National Renewable Energy Lab NREL in Golden Colorado announced a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding with telecom giant Verizon to help develop and implement energy efficiency technologies. The information and communications technology (ICT) industry uses a whopping 3% of all electricity in the US, and that number is only going to get bigger as more and more ITC infrastructure is installed. The partnership is an effort to develop cutting-edge energy saving strategies and smart grid technologies that could change the entire industry and reinforce the importance of private and public partnerships.
The partnership will help Verizon achieve several goals – first and foremost saving money by reducing their energy demand in a volatile energy market. The company is also looking to reduce their carbon footprint by measuring the CO2 per terabyte of data that goes through the network. Looking at emerging markets, the partnership could also result in breakthroughs in developing smart grid technologies, leading to a more rapid deployment of energy efficiency and distribution technologies.
NREL is looking to apply their expertise and learn about the needs of the telecommunications industry and the relationship with Verizon will be their first opportunity to work in the ICT sector. By helping Verizon implement energy efficiency within their infrastructure, especially with data centers, NREL can quickly help cut energy consumption in one of the world’s most energy intensive operations. Looking further down the road the partnership could produce important breakthroughs both large and small that would ripple through the industry and help implement the smart grid within homes and businesses.
The next step will be for the groups to develop a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) for developing specific projects. The need for private and public sector relationships is becoming increasingly more important as the complexity and scale of our energy sector grows, benefiting both the consumer and environment at the same time.