Mar 15, 2021

Data centre emissions: Amazon opens renewable energy project

Data Centres
Climate Change
Renewable Energy
William Smith
2 min
As data centre energy usage falls under increasing scrutiny, Amazon is building solar panels as part of its efforts to move to green energy
As data centre energy usage falls under increasing scrutiny, Amazon is building solar panels as part of its efforts to move to green energy...

Technology giant Amazon has announced it is to build a 62 megawatt solar project in the city-state of Singapore.

The project, which is scheduled for completion in 2022, features movable panels to make the most of the sun, and expects to generate 80,000 megawatt hours of clean energy per year.

Amazon’s climate pledge

“In addition to adding net-new renewable energy to the electricity grids where we operate across the world, AWS has been, and remains, laser focused on improving efficiency in every aspect of our infrastructure,” said Conor McNamara, Managing Director, AWS ASEAN. “From the highly available infrastructure that powers our servers, to techniques we use to cool our data centers, to the innovative server designs we provide our customers, energy efficiency is a key goal of our global infrastructure.”

The development burnishes Amazon’s existing status as the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy - with total energy investments as of 10 December 2020 totalling 6.5 gigawatts of production capacity. It has also committed to powering operations through 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Hidden polluters

While big tech firms are not under the same amount of scrutiny as more obvious polluters such as for instance, oil giants, they nevertheless have a much larger real world impact than their clean, digital images suggest. This chiefly comes from data centres, which used an estimated 1% of the electricity produced globally in 2018, a figure which is only going up.

The crossover of digital realms and their real-world impacts was again highlighted recently by the explosion in the price of Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is mined via specialised computers which expend an enormous amount of processing power and thus devour huge amounts of electricity - recently matching the entire nation of Argentina.

“To achieve our goals under The Climate Pledge, Amazon is committed to global investment in renewable energy generation to reduce carbon emissions from our worldwide operations,” said McNamara. “We believe we can use our size and scale to make a difference and spur innovation in new technologies to support a low-carbon economy.”

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

British Army
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”


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