Cloud Computing: Green or black?

At last week’s JISC Conference (Elizabeth II Conference centre, Westminster, 12/13 April) green was definitely the new black. There was a parallel session on Reducing your carbon footprint and the closing plenary given by Bill St. Arnaud looked primarily at how the Higher Education sector can green-up it’s ICT.

One of Bill’s sources was the recent data centre report by environmental group Greenpeace. The report entitled Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change asks for data center builders to become part of the solution to the climate change challenge, rather than part of the problem.

In the report Greenpeace projects that data centers could consume up to 1 million megawatt hours of power by 2020, with the telecom sector using another 950,000 megawatt hours.

A comparison of the carbon footprint of data centres is given below.

One suggested way data centres can be greener is by moving away from coal power and building in places where renewable energy is possible.

At the JISC conference Bill St. Arnaud called for UK HE to do something similar with its server rooms. In the future the cost, both economically and environmentally, will be in carbon emissions, not in energy usage. Improving energy efficiency is only part of the solution. UK HE has an opportunity to be the leaders in this area by moving their server rooms out of hot cities and too remoter locations where they can use renewable energy.

Further discussion on data centres and energy use on the data centre blog.


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