The Dirty Energy Powering Your Web-Based Life Greenpeace Report Asks "How dirty is your data?"

Posted by Ben Jervey

 

greenpeace, data centers, data, energy, electricity, carbon footprint, computingThis morning at GigaOM's Green:Net conference (one of the very few "green" conferences that I actually regret missing), Greenpeace released a doozy of a report on the massive energy demands of data centers, and the often-dirty sources that that energy comes from.

To my mind, the most startling thing in this "How Dirty is Your Data" report (PDF) was exactly how much electricity it takes to keep our internet cranking. From the intro:

Data centres to house the explosion of virtual information currently consume 1.5-2% of all global electricity; this is growing at a rate of 12% a year.

Last week our minds were blown by learning that it takes 1 percent of our national electricity demand to grow weed, so maybe 1.5-2% to juice up Amazon.com and Google and Facebook shouldn't be that surprising. But it still dropped my jaw a bit.

Of course, this is a Greenpeace report, so there's going to be some grading and finger wagging. Here's their "Clean Cloud Power" report card.

greenpeace, data centers, data, energy, electricity, carbon footprint, computing

As you can see, they grade on a bunch of different metrics, and their isn't an overall grade given. Still, from where I'm sitting, it looks like maybe IBM and Yahoo! are standing out as  best for their across-the-board energy choices. Interesting that two companies that might be considered dinosaurs in the tech world are actually leading the industry in the transition to clean energy.

I've been hard on Greenpeace in the past (because I love you, and I care!), but this is exactly the type of research work that makes the organization absolutely invaluable.

Follow Earth2Tech's Katie Fehrenbacher for more news out of Green:Net.