Going by the concerns in Data Centre (DC) heat reduction (and, as a consequence, the very sustainability of these power hungry behemoths), it's a no-brainer guessing that a path-breaking innovation in arresting the power consumption at DCs would instantly be in the run for a Nobel.
First some facts. It is estimated that 1 % of the total energy produced (globally) is consumed by the server farms of Google's Data Centres. In fact, a third of the spend of any self-respecting IT firm is swallowed up by its energy requirements. Hence, the new-found activism of environmentalists in targeting this sector.
There is no gainsaying that we need efficient means of addressing these issues. Life without Google and Amazon is now unimaginable. No doubt that IT brings in revolutionary changes in lifestyle that facilitates our very existence. However, the unbridled growth allowed to the industry has resulted in these profit centres paying scant regard to the devastation that they cause to the environment.
Rather late in the day, they appear to have woken up and are indeed trying to make amends. For instance, there is a proposal to shift massive server infrastructure and data centres to Rejkyavick (Iceland) where, huge savings in air-conditioning is envisaged to be achieved because of the ambient temperatures. In another interesting development, a church in Finland, with a large basement (that was a bunker-cum-safety hideout from WW-II bombing) is a potential candidate for the same purpose. The idea here is however, a little different. It is proposed to trap the heat generated by the data centres, pipe it, and supply it to meet the entire heating requirement of the city where the church is housed.
The IT industry is forced to innovate now not only for the conventional reasons (processors, networks, hardware, software, the web etc.) but also to address critical global warming issues. One thing is for sure; there is no dearth of innovators in the industry. One wonders, if only the Microsofts, the Apples, the Ciscos and the Oracles would get together on this issue, some revolutionary breakthrough would indeed be forthcoming. Till such time, it's fingers crossed, and Oh yes, the Nobel waits!