Data-hungry companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon could reduce their energy consumption with 40% by rerouting data to locations where electricity prices are lowest on a particular day. A smart routing algorithm could take advantage of daily and hourly fluctuations in electricity costs across the country (US) perhaps even the world. Further it could weigh up the physical distance needed to route information (it is more expensive to move data over greater distances) against the likely cost savings from reduced energy use. Energy prices fluctuate daily (changes in supply, consumer demand, fuel price hikes), even among geographically close locations. It is the outcome of research done by PhD student Asfandyar Qureshi and colleagues at MIT.
Google recently built a datacenter in Belgium that relies entirely on ambient cooling -- on days when the weather gets too warm, the center's servers are simply shut down. The energy-aware Internet-routing scheme is an extension of this idea says Bruce Maggs, vice president of research at Akamai. Data distribution alone will not be able to do the trick; servers need to use substantially less power when idle than when fully running. Further he remarks: "The paper is not about saving energy but about saving cost, although there are some ways to do both. You have to hope that those are aligned."