The Internet Can Be Made More Sustainable: New Stanford Report
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - This story throws a faint but positive light over the green efforts of tech giants like Facebook and Google, which have recently received bad press over privacy issues. These big companies are thinking about their data centres and how to make them more sustainable. That’s what experts at Stanford say in a new study, "Characteristics of Low-Carbon Data Centres," published online in Nature Climate Change. Big data centres, which are the global backbone of the Internet, could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 88 per cent by switching to efficient, off-the-shelf equipment and improving energy, the report concludes.
Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University and co-author of this report, states that large server farms can cut electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions sharply with proven energy management practices. As if to prove this point, Facebook recently built its first data centre outside the States in Sweden. This Swedish town is located near the Arctic Circle; that means the Facebook's server farm will benefit from the cold weather to keep the heat-producing facility cool.
Apple has announced that it will partner with Nevada's largest power company to build a solar farm to juice its data centre in Reno, Nevada. The new photovoltaic power source, to be built in partnership with NV Energy, will also provide clean energy to the local power grid. Apple has stated that when completed, the 137-acre solar farm will generate approximately 43.5m-kilowatt hours of clean energy, equivalent to taking 6,400 passenger vehicles off the road per year! Apple also states that 75 per cent of its corporate facilities are powered by renewable sources and says, "We've already achieved 100 per cent renewable energy at all of our data centres. Our facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork and Munich, and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. We won't stop working until we achieve 100 per cent throughout Apple."
If these companies continue to revolutionise data centres, making them sustainable, easy and cheap, then most centres can save lots of energy. Adding renewable power to the mix can help reduce a data centre’s overall emissions by 98 per cent when combined with other strategies. However, renewables are not the first choice for reducing emissions.
We should not forget that every search we perform, very document we save uses energy and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Personal gadget use actually generates more emissions than server farms—that’s the next frontier on which to make sustainability progress.
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