इंडियन आवाज़     03 Dec 2023 12:11:27      انڈین آواز

How Dirty is Your Data?

The Greenpeace report “How Dirty is Your Data?” showcases the enormous amount of electricity required to power “the cloud” and finds that the Information and Communication Technology sector (ICT), despite significant advances in energy efficient data center design, is both largely ignoring the importance of using renewable power as a top criterion for locating new infrastructure and is not transparent in disclosing its energy use.

From an Indian perspective the report highlights the reliance of the Indian telecommunication industry on diesel to power its exponential growth, in spite of existing cost-competitive renewable opportunities. Currently, the industry consumes over 2 billion liters of diesel at subsidised rates, emitting over 5.6 MtCO2e of carbon annually, which is 2 % of country’s overall GHG emission. Considering that 40 % of the over 300,000 existing mobile towers are located in rural areas, and significant expansions projected, a switch-over to renewable energy sources adds economic robustness and long-term profitability for Telecom companies.

Greenpeace Campaigner Abhishek Pratap said: “It is clear that the ICT and in particular the Telecom sector’s failure to address their growing carbon emissions hides a continued reliance on dirty diesel to power its current and future infrastructure. Consumers certainly would like to know that when they use mobiles or change their Facebook status, they are not contributing to toxic coal ash, global warming or future Fukishima’s”

Greenpeace evaluated ten cloud companies on their transparency, infrastructure siting decisions, and mitigation strategies. Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, and others receive failing marks in one or more categories. A key finding is that despite the fact that data centers, which house the explosion of virtual information, currently consume 1.5-2% of all global electricity and are growing at a rate of 12% per year, companies in the sector, as a whole, do not release information on their energy use and its associated global warming emissions.


Highlights from the report

* The $1 Billion (USD) Apple iData Center in North Carolina, expected to open this spring, will consume as much as 100 MW of electricity, equivalent to the electricity usage of approximately 80,000 homes in the U.S. or over a quarter million in the E.U.. The surrounding energy grid has less than 5 percent clean energy, with the remaining 95 percent coming from dirty, dangerous sources like coal and nuclear.
* Both Yahoo! and Google seem to understand the importance of a renewable energy supply, with Yahoo! siting most of its data centres near sources of renewable energy, and Google is directly signing power purchasing agreements for renewable energy and investing in solar and wind energy projects in many US states as well as Germany. Their models should be employed and improved upon by other Internet (“cloud computing”) companies.
* Facebook, one of the fastest growing and most popular destinations on the web, is unfortunately on track to be the most dependent cloud computing companies on coal-powered electricity, with over 53 percent of its facilities estimated to rely on coal to power the Facebook cloud.

Let’s be clear – today’s technological innovations should not depend on increasing demand for the dirty energy sources of the past. The IT industry prides itself on making the world a more transparent place – so it needs bold leaders who take responsibility for their own energy impacts.

While several companies have acknowledged that the sourcing of energy for data centres is a critical factor in ensuring our data is stored sustainably, and some are driving investment in clean sources of electricity, the IT sector at large has so far failed to commit to clean energy. This holds the sector back from being truly green.


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