posts quantifying ICT's consumption & emissions footprints

ICT at 10% of Global Electricity Consumption?

The Digital Power Group said in August 2013 that global ICT consumes ~1,500 TWh of electricity annually, ~10% of the world's annual generation. This is the much greater that the 2% number commonly cited six years ago when Vertatique was launched. How did we get from there to here? And, is 10% a credible number?

This is not the first time I have seen the 10% number. It was cited in the promotion for a 2009 green communications conference in Germany. I've asked the source of both these 10% numbers for detailed breakdowns. Let's take a look at what we already know until we hear back.

Using Cloud Better Than Greening Your Own ICT Ops?

A Microsoft/Accenture/WSP report compared three applications used in-cloud and on-premises. A Google report takes a similar look at Google Apps. Both claim CO2e reductions ranging above 80%. Pike Research says the move to cloud computing will decrease overall data center GHG emissions by 28%. The most recent report, a WSP/NRDC study, reinforces these themes but offers balancing perspectives.

Carbon Footprint of Mobile Services

British mobile services provider O2 has produced statistics[1] about the carbon footprint of individual activities such as a phone call and a data download. This came from the company's effort to become the first carrier to independently certify its carbon footprint. Information like this is important to organizations wishing to account for emissions from their cloud use in carbon audits[2].

Carbon Footprint of a Google Search

Vertatique has been tracking statistics about the carbon costs of everyday computer activities dating back to our March 2007 look at Second Life. These stats can be both useful for awareness-building and hard to get right, as we were reminded by the 2009 flap over Google's search footprint*. Google subsequently released more statistics on its unit energy consumption and CO2e footprint.

Data Center Energy Consumption Growing, But More Slowly

Vertatique launched in 2007 with a post citing a study about data center energy consumption. A new study shows that while global data center energy consumption has continued to grow, the grow appears to be slowing.

Annual Global Spam: 33TWh and 17 Million Tonnes CO2

McAfee/ICF released The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report in 2009. Some excerpts from the report's "Key Findings":

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.

Storage Costs Average $25/GB/Month

The full cost of data storage averages $25/GB/month and is consuming 40% of IT operating budgets.

These figures appeared in an article on "single instancing" by Stuart Butts, CEO of data services company Xenos Group (@xenos_group). I asked Stuart to give Vertatique readers some insight into burdened data costs. His reply:

Carbon Footprint of a DVD

I was asked during my HPA sustainable media session to compare the carbon footprint of a movie delivered by DVD versus one delivered by streaming. It was a good question, but one that required much research.  Here's the first half of the answer.

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