Along with our seemingly insatiable desire for data comes an insatiable need for energy to power the data centers that deliver it to us. As Facebook and friends continue to amass exabytes of information and as the cloud computing model proliferates, more data centers are coming online every day, but are companies that build them paying any attention energy efficiency?
Greenpeace International IT analyst Gary Cook gives the tech industry a bit of a spanking, before he dishes out the praise:
The IT sector might like to consider itself forward-thinking, but it is keeping far too quiet while the dirty energy industry continues to exert undue influence on both the political process and financial markets.
Having said that, Greenpeace does find some truly forward-thinking companies, most notably Google, Cisco, and Dell, which get 20 percent of their energy through renewable sources. As Cnet notes, “That’s significant given that renewable energy including hydro plants is less than ten percent of the electricity generating mix in the grid at large.”
Cisco, Ericsson, and Fujitsu are praised for providing detailed case studies of “how their unique technology is creating pathways towards significant emission reductions,” and Japan’s Softbank has set “a new bar in advocacy leadership with strong statements and efforts to move Japan away from dirty energy dependence post-Fukushima.”
Greenpeace is hoping for more, positing a future in which consumers have more control of their energy use:
Just as the power of the internet has revolutionised our communication by allowing users to provide content such as video, music and text material, generating new producers, journalists and authors, IT energy-related “smart” solutions have the ability to put consumers in command of their electricity use and pave the way for dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.
It’s always worth remembering that going green isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s about helping the bottom line too.