Coal fuels much of internet 'data cloud', warns Greenpeace
Wednesday 31 March 2010
The digital photos, shared videos, tweets and Facebook chatter that make up our online lives may appear to have no physical form, but they contribute to some very real environmental damage, the campaign group Greenpeace warns.
The vast amount of digital data that we upload and access via social networks and on websites such as YouTube is stored in what the internet industry calls the "cloud", by which it means a vast numbers of computers owned by the likes of Google, Yahoo and Apple.
These computers are housed in "data warehouses" across the world, and a Greenpeace report yesterday said that many of these power-guzzling sites had been built in parts of the US where electricity is generated mainly at coal-fired power stations. Coal, the most widely used source of energy in the US, is also the dirtiest, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the group says.
"The last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to be built in places where it increases demand for dirty coal-fired power," the report says. Greenpeace is putting pressure on internet firms to be more careful about where they build and says they should lobby more in Washington for clean energy.
A Facebook facility being built in Oregon will rely on a utility whose main fuel is coal, while Apple is building a data warehouse in a North Carolina region that relies mostly on coal, according to the report, Make IT Green. The companies criticised by Greenpeace say that they always take the environment into account, and Facebook said that it chose Oregon so that it could use natural means to cool its servers, instead of having to power air-conditioning.
"As the cloud grows, the IT industry's appetite for energy will only increase, so the industry must become strong advocates for renewable energy solutions and strong laws that cut global warming pollution," said Casey Harrell, a Greenpeace campaigner.
The organisation says that, at current rates of growth, data centres and telecoms infrastructure will consume about 1,963 billion kilowatts hours of electricity in 2020, more than triple their current consumption and more than France, Germany, Canada and Brazil combined.
- 1 Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 Germanwings crash: Descent may have been 'deliberate, suicidal choice' by pilot, claims experts
- 4 Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 5 Video shows what happens when lava is poured onto ice
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Vote Ukip, says far-right group Britain First
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...
£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...
£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...