Data is our planet’s next great natural resource. By applying advanced analytics and efficient cloud infrastructures — shaped by deep scientific research, technology development and global business expertise — IBM is tapping that resource to extend our company’s five decades of leadership in environmental sustainability for our clients, our company and the world.

These examples illustrate some of the ways IBM is helping enterprises and governments, including China:

Smarter Infrastructure

Cloud computing — the delivery of IT and business processes as digital services — is transforming the information technology infrastructure of the world and the business models of its enterprises and institutions. It is also saving energy. IBM’s cloud infrastructure solutions have helped our clients increase their processing capability by 20 times and improve productivity by 30 percent while increasing energy efficiency and lowering energy costs. Similarly, our broad data center portfolio uses IBM’s virtualization software and analytics-based thermal management to minimize the energy required to deliver a complex enterprise workload.

Smarter Wind

A major challenge to the growth of renewable power is its inherently variable supply. IBM’s advanced power and weather modeling technology helps utilities overcome this challenge. For example, Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting (HyRef) uses weather modeling, cloud imaging and sky-facing cameras to track cloud movement while sensors on wind turbines monitor wind speed, temperature and direction. Using analytics and modeling, HyRef predicts the performance of each turbine and estimates its amount of generated renewable energy. This knowledge enables utilities to manage the variability of wind and solar power and more accurately forecast the amount of energy that can be directed to the power grid — thus increasing the amount of renewable energy provided through the grid.

Smarter Water

IBM’s Smarter Water solutions are helping regions around the world that lack clean water — as well as populations threatened by too much water. For instance, 55 percent of the Dutch population is located in areas prone to flooding. Partnering with Delft University, Deltares Science Institute, HydroLogic Research and Dutch water authorities, IBM is applying big data analytics and weather modeling to analyze meteorological conditions, tides and levee integrity to transform flood control. This early flood warning system can reduce the cost of managing water by up to 15 percent.

IBM Partnership With China: Project “Green Horizon”

Green Horizon is a 10-year initiative to support China in transforming its national energy systems and protecting the health of citizens. The project addresses three areas critical to China’s sustainable growth: air quality management, renewable energy forecasting and energy optimization for industry. Green Horizon builds on a strong investment foundation to serve advanced sustainability initiatives for IBM and its clients. Led by IBM’s China Research laboratory, the initiative will tap into the company’s network of 12 global research labs and create an innovation ecosystem of partners from across government, academia, industry and private enterprise to help China address its pressing needs.

Dr. Jin Dong, Leader of IBM’s Green Horizon initiative (© IBM)


Reducing Air Pollution – IBM is partnering with the Beijing Municipal Government on a system to enable authorities to pinpoint the type, source and level of emissions and predict air quality in the city. IBM’s cognitive computing systems will analyze and learn from streams of real-time data generated by air quality monitoring stations, meteorological satellites and IBM’s new-generation optical sensors – all connected by the internet of things. By applying supercomputing processing power, scientists from IBM and the Beijing Government aim to create visual maps showing the source and dispersion of pollutants across Beijing 72 hours in advance with street-scale resolution.

Improving Energy Efficiency – IBM is developing a new system to help monitor, manage and optimize the energy consumption of industrial enterprises – representing over 70% of China’s total energy consumption.

Using a Big Data and analytics platform deployed over the cloud, the system will analyze vast amounts of data generated by energy monitoring devices and identify opportunities for conservation. For example, it could be used to analyze data from a steel factory and identify that an oxygen furnace wastes the most energy because the temperature of the output smoke is too high. The system will be a valuable tool for guiding decisions about optimization and investment in China’s most power hungry industries such as steel, cement, chemical and non-ferrous metal.

The new energy optimization system for industry leverages IBM’s expertise in regional energy management in China. IBM is already engaged with China Southern Grid to manage the energy consumption of HengQin Island in Guangdong province helping the island to decrease energy consumption, costs and CO2 emissions.

Increasing Renewable Energy – IBM has developed a renewable energy forecasting system to help energy grids harness and manage alternative energy sources. The solution combines weather prediction and Big Data analytics to accurately forecast the availability of renewable energy which is renowned for its variability. It enables utility companies to forecast the amount of energy available to be redirected into the grid or to be stored helping to ensure as little as possible energy is wasted. It increases the viability of renewable energy, helping the Chinese government to realize its objective of getting 13% of consumed energy from non-fossil fuels by 2017 and enabling the construction of the world’s biggest renewable grids.

The Zhangbei Demonstration Project is China’s largest renewable energy initative (© Clean Energy Action Project)


The system has rolled out to 30 wind, solar and hydro power sources. The biggest deployment is at China’s largest renewable energy initiative – the Zhangbei Demonstration Project managed by State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Company Limited (SG-JBEPC) in the Northern province of Hebei. Using the system, SG-JBEPC is able to integrate 10% more alternative energy (enough for 14,000 homes) into the national grid. With a prediction accuracy of 90% proven on Zhangbei’s wind turbines, it is one of the most accurate energy forecasting systems in the world.

To achieve a sustainable planet, we must build a smarter one. These examples are just a few of the many ways IBM is helping enterprises, governments and communities to do so. More information is available in the IBM and the Environment 2013 annual report.