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Greenpeace: Cloud Computing Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Triple

Make IT Green

As cloud computing-fueled devices like the iPad grow in popularity, so will associated greenhouse gas emissions, according to Greenpeace's "Make IT Green" report. The report, which dubs 2010 the Year of the Cloud, offers up a disturbing statistic: Cloud computing greenhouse gas emissions will triple by 2020.

The increase in emissions makes sense. As we increasingly rely on the cloud to store our movies, music, and documents, cloud providers will continue to build more data centers—many of which are powered by coal. Facebook, for example, recently announced that is building a data center in Oregon that will be powered mostly by coal-fired power stations, much to the chagrin of groups like Greenpeace.

The solution to the cloud computing problem is fairly obvious. Greenpeace explains in its report, "Companies like Facebook, Google, and other large players in the cloud computing market must advocate for policy change at the local, national, and international levels to ensure that, as their appetite for energy increases, so does the supply of renewable energy." As we've noted before, companies like IBM, Google, and HP have already begun to make strides in cutting data center energy use. But there is still plenty of work to be done—as it stands, the cloud will use 1,963.74 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by 2020.

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  • travis blake

    This is such a load of BS, I do support GP on some issues but not this one. What's easier to monitor and improve from a GHG perspective, a 100 or data centers of 5 million homes?

    Travis Blake

  • John Cantrell

    You're exactly right. Greenpeace is just jumping on 'the next big thing' to keep them relevant.

    If you account for the local servers' inefficiencies and power and cooling for the local servers as compared to central servers, there's no comparison. The postal service reduced its power and cooling loads by something like 30% by 'cloud' efficiencies. That has a BIG power and carbon impact.

    Not to even mention the smaller and more efficient devices that access the clouds themselves as being lightwight and not full on, power-hungry workstation pc's.

    bogus article. way to botch this one Greenpeace. I wonder how many carbon emissions you wasted with this false research...that would be a good study.

  • Mark Adams

    Cloud Computing must be a "good" thing? Surely there's a commensurate reduction in local PC power and storage requirements so the "power required per stored megabyte" is lower with Cloud?