Data Center power consumption and CO2 emissions

One search in Google accounts for 7 grams of CO2,  2 searches is the equivalent of boiling a kettle of water. The accurateness of this claim can be discussed. But if you have ever set foot in a computing data center it is clear that data centers consume a lot of electricity to power the servers and cool the building. As a result data centers have a serious CO2 emission footprint. And the relative high growth of data centers compared to other industries validates a closer look.

As a McKinsey study pointed out:

Already, the world’s 44 million servers consume 0.5 percent of all electricity, with data center emissions now approaching those of countries such as Argentina or the Netherlands. In the United States alone, growth in electricity used by data centers between now and 2010 will be the equivalent of ten new power plants. Without efforts to curb demand, current projections show worldwide carbon emissions from data centers will quadruple by 2020.

And in a graphic some other disturbing facts:


Some of the steps that are taken to mitigate the growth in electricity consumption:

  1. Consolidating data centers and servers. Virtualization is now becoming ubiquitous even for the most demanding applications. Virtualization is driving down the current inefficient use of servers. 
  2. New facilities that take advantage of new technologies like natural cooling and power supplies that produce fewer.
  3. Raised awareness among regulators to hold organisations accountable for electricity consumptions and emissions operating data centers. 
  4. A global industry consortium called The Green Grid dedicated to developing and promoting energy efficiency for data centers and information service delivery. 

Some companies at least claim to think about the environmental costs of running their data center operations and take action to improve it: Google, IBM

Read more:

Disclaimer: 23 google searches were executed in creating this article.


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8 Responses to “Data Center power consumption and CO2 emissions”

  1. Sjors Pals Says:

    Funny, did they also think about the fact that with the rise of the information by internet less papers are sold and so less natural resources are used to produce and transport them? Also the fact that internet makes communication easier, and people have to travel less has big benefits for the CO2 production. But on the other hand, i don’t believe in the whole CO2 hype, i hate cold feet, so i google a lot 😉

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