Carbon Footprints of Servers Can Vary By 10X

What is the carbon footprint of a server? It turns out that the answer can vary by a factor of 10x, depending on three key factors.

1. The power consumption of the server.
2. The energy efficiency of the data center in terms of powering cooling and other server support functions (PUE).
3. The carbon footprint of the electricity generation fuel.

We chose two representative high-low data points for each factor, grouping together all the highs and all the lows to illustrate the range of server carbon footprints.

Server (W)

PUE

Annual kWh

Power Source

Source Carbon (kg/kWh)

Annual Carbon (metric tons)

450

2.2

8,678

Brown Coal

1.20

5.2

150

1.8

2,367

Natural Gas

0.45

0.5

The bottom line is that smart decisions about equipment, operating efficiency, and energy source can combine to significantly reduce an ICT infrastructures' carbon footprint.

Also, what Apple's CO2e data tells us about the unique lifecycle of servers.

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