How to Get the Feds' Efficient IT Funds

For green IT, this week started out with a bang, with the announcement that the stimulus package would provide $50 million in federal grants for energy-efficient information and communication technologies. Now the details of the program are starting to roll in. The Department of Energy will distribute the funds as part of a larger $256 million grant program for industrial efficiency. Combined heat and power, district energy and waste energy recovery projects will get $156 million, and advanced materials development will get the remaining $50 million.

On Wednesday, the agency posted the Federal Opportunity Announcement, detailing plans to provide 5 to 15 grants of up to $10 million each for efficient IT and communication tech. The DOE, noting that “electricity consumed in data centers and telecom systems is already 3 percent of the U.S. total and growing rapidly,” says it will be looking to fund technologies that can deliver “dramatic” efficiency improvements for microprocessors or servers and supporting power and cooling systems.

As Dell VP Albert Esser said at our Green:Net conference earlier this year, today’s newer data centers are 40 percent more efficient than outdated systems, but if a company focuses on its utilization of servers, they can increase efficiency by more than 200 percent. The DOE aims to push the industry even further by funding next-gen technologies.

Unlike the $2.4 billion vehicle battery grant program we wrote about recently, which is meant primarily to help get commercial-scale factories up and running within a few years, this latest program is designed to support earlier-stage innovation, with R&D and demo projects both qualifying for funds.

If efficient IT developers are anything like battery companies, we’ll be hearing a lot of announcements during the next six weeks about new projects and initiatives in the pipeline, heating up what’s already becoming an increasingly crowded field, from GE’s green data center gear launch to startup Advanced Data Center’s plans for a $100 million efficient server complex and energy management startup Sentilla’s new sensor and software system for data center gear. Want to get your company in on the action? You have until 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on July 21 to apply.

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