IT Sector in Line for Government Investment

May 14, 2013

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Much of last week's Queen's Speech was a dull affair where data centre news is concerned, but Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker did offer the IT sector something to look forward to. That glimmer of hope comes by way of a new £21 million program designed to provide seed funding for UK technology entrepreneurs. The main priority of the fund is to promote low carbon products and services that will boost British industry, create and support new jobs, and open further opportunities for exports. All the while, the new low carbon products and services should help the UK reach its scheduled carbon reduction targets. Where data centres are specifically concerned, the funding will provide up to £2 million to help develop environmentally friendly energy storage solutions. These storage solutions take advantage of periods of low consumption on the energy grid, storing up power that can be used during peak times throughout the day. With the tremendous amount of raw energy consumed by the average data centre, efficient storage technologies would be a Godsend. In a much broader scope, £16 million of the fund will be awarded to 30 separate projects, some of which have already been proposed and approved. Projects include new power generation systems; advanced systems to control heating, cooling, and lighting; and smart building systems able to monitor and control energy use and waste. If the fund produces the technology advancements the government is hoping for, all of them will have some sort of positive affect on the IT sector. For example, a company that can design and build a data centre with a smart building energy control system could achieve a drastic reduction in power consumption and greater efficiency.

Staying the Course

The announcement of the £21 million Energy Entrepreneurs Fund should be no surprise to the IT sector. It's in keeping with other similar strategies the government has been pushing over the last few years. Be it energy efficient heat pump systems, green energy through wind farms and solar, or encouraging new technologies for energy storage, the UK is leading Europe into a new era of significantly lower carbon emissions. The only thing that could muddy the waters for the data centre sector is the current push into optical fibre technology. It is true that fibre represents the next generation of high-speed data communications, but we also know the infrastructure is not yet in place to handle it. Trying to balance energy efficiency with developing optical fibre can be a bit precarious in an era when both public and private sector budgets are very tight. In any event, we will eventually get where we are going in terms of reducing our carbon footprint and creating an IT sector that is both fast and efficient. It's just a matter of how we will get there and how long it will take. We are likely to see continued government investment well into the future; hopefully it will spur the entrepreneurship everybody is hoping for.