How green is your cloud?

According to a recent research from human rights organization Greenpeace, the Internet is now reponsible for 27 tons of radioactive waste a year. In fact it consumes more electrical power than a good-sized country – and most of this energy currently comes from pollutant, non-renewable sources.

A single Google search uses as much energy as a low-voltage 11 W light-bulb uses in an hour. Which may not sound like much until one factors in that there are around 6-billion Google searches a day. And that’s just Google, never mind Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the rest of the online world.

The Internet as a whole now consumes around 2% of all power produced on Earth, or about 300 TWh annually. That’s roughly equivalent to 30 nuclear power plants worth of energy translating into into at least 18,5 million tons of CO2 from non-renewables. The good news is that many companies are doing a lot to clean up their energy footprint. Greenpeace’s 2014 “Clicking Clean” report reveals that major cloud brands like Apple, Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace, and Salesforce have committed to powering their data centers with 100% renewable energy.

 

“This is great for renewable energy tech producers like us,“ said Thomas Körner of Canadian Solar USA. “A significant portion of the renewable energy these online companies use will be solar, as is evidenced by the large solar facilities that Apple, Google and others have already built.”

 

A number of leading brands, most notably Apple and Facebook, have also made significant improvements in their energy transparency and are only too happy to share the progress they are making in achieving their renewably energy targets. Google, for its part, is showing the way in building a renewably powered Internet by significantly expanding its renewable energy purchasing and investment, both independently and through collaboration with its utility vendors.

“By making better energy choices and demanding more from utility vendors, some internet companies are already demonstrating their ability to be critical catalysts in driving utilities and governments toward the development of cleaner electricity generation that will ensure a truly green online world – and a greener offline world for us all,” says the Greenpeace report.