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Major New Funding Opportunities for Internet Researchers and R&E Networks

Bill St. Arnaud

Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) is a new policy program that was developed at the Bali United Nations Climate Change Conference.

As opposed to the much maligned programs like CDM and other initiatives NAMA refers to a set of policies and actions that developed and developing countries undertake as part of a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also unlike CDM, NAMA recipients are not restricted to developing countries. The program recognizes that different countries may take different nationally appropriate action based on different capabilities and requirements. Most importantly any set of actions or policies undertaken by a nation under NAMA will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support and will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification.

Already most industrialized countries have committed funding,or intend to commit funding to NAMA projects. It is expected that by 2020 over $100 billion will be committed to NAMA programs by various nation states.

As I have blogged ad nauseam, I believe Internet researcher and R&E networks can play a critical leadership role in developing zero carbon ICT and "Energy Internet" technologies and architectures. ICT is the fastest growing sector in terms of CO2 emissions and is rapidly become one of the largest GHG emission sectors on the planet. For example a recent Australian study pointed out that the demand for new wireless technologies alone will equal the CO2 emissions of 4 1/2 million cars!

Once you get past the mental block of energy efficiency solves all problems, and realize that energy consumption is not the problem, but the type of energy we use, then a whole world of research and innovation opportunities opens up. More significantly, whether you believe in climate change or not, it is expected that within a couple of years the cost of power from distributed roof top solar panels is going to be less than that from the grid. This is going to fundamentally change the dynamics of the power industry much like the Internet disrupted the old telecom world. Those countries and businesses that take advantage of these new power realities are going to have a huge advantage in the global marketplace.

I am pleased to see that Europe is at the forefront of these developments with Future Internet initiatives like FINSENY.EU that is actively working with NRENs and Internet researchers to develop the architectural principles of building an energy Internet built around distributed small scale renewable power. My only concern is that Europe may screw it up, like they did with the early Internet, when most of the research funding went to incumbent operators.

The global Internet started in the academic research community and R&E networks. It would be great to see these same organizations play a leadership role in deploying the global "Energy Internet". Universities, in many cases have the energy profile of small cities, of which 25-40% of their electrical consumption is directly attributable to ICT. Most campuses also operate large fleets of utility vehicles that could easily be converted to dynamic charging to "packetize" power and provide it where needed and when needed on campus, especially when there is no power from the solar panels.

I dream of the day when a university announces it is going zero carbon and off the grid.

By Bill St. Arnaud , Green IT Networking Consultant

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Telecom

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