$479M a Year to Power Fed Data Centers?

A new report from HP and Intel estimates the government's power bill for its 600,000 servers at $479 million per year.

How much does the U.S. government spend on electricity to run its data centers each year? A new report from HP and Intel estimates the government's power bill for its 600,000 servers at $479 million per year. The total energy usage is estimated at just shy of 1.2 billion kilowatt hours a year. Those are among many large numbers in the report, which is designed to illustrate the theoretical savings available if the U.S. government were to use HP's servers and cooling technology to optimize its entire data center footprint.

HP estimates a 40 percent across-the-board savings, which by the company's math would save $192 million a year, and $959 million over five years. This assumes that all government data centers are equally inefficient and would realize a 40 percent savings on their energy bills. In fact, a number of government data centers have already implemented energy savings programs, as outlined in coverage at FederalTimes.

The U.S. Postal Service, for example, eliminated 791 of its 895 physical servers through virtualization, reducing its data center power consumption by 3.5 million kilowatt-hours a year. The Defense Contract Management Agency recently consolidated 18 data centers into two through a similar virtualization process.

In some cases, the HP-Intel savings projections diverge from those of the government's own data center energy experts. For example, the report suggests that energy efficiency could save the government 9.6 billion kilowatts of power over 5 years, which HP equates with removing 1.46 million cars from the road.

Last year Paul Scheihing, the technology manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program, estimated the total savings potential of the entire data center industry at 20 billion kilowatts through 2015. "It's the equivalent of taking 675,000 cars off the road," Scheihing said. Details aside, the broader point, as Scheihing noted at the time: "These are some big numbers."

Indeed, the survey employs a clever marketing tactic: it finds the largest data center energy efficiency gain imaginable, and connects it to HP technologies. It also suggests that HP sees government customers as a key initial constituency for its Dynamic Smart Cooling. HP's download page for the new report notes that it is "available to government customers only."