Last updated: September 24, 2012 - 8:20am
A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that data centers, a foundation of the information industry, is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found. To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear on the state government’s Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of the area’s top stationary diesel polluters. Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times. Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that load, the estimates show.
- Why The New York Times Story 'Power, Pollution, And The Internet' Is A Sloppy Failure
- Data Barns in a Farm Town, Gobbling Power and Flexing Muscle
- Apple, Challenged By Greenpeace, Says It Has A Plan To Run Greener Data Centers
- Google Cuts Its Giant Electricity Bill With DeepMind-Powered AI
- To Build a Smart Grid, Start With Smart Meters
- Dept of Energy Invests $47 Million to Make IT and Communications More Energy Efficient
- Bringing Efficiency to the Infrastructure
- Microsoft Plumbs Ocean’s Depths to Test Underwater Data Center
- National Broadband Plan Workshop: Smart Grid, Broadband and Climate Change (see summary)
- Kindle Friendlier to Environment Than Print Books
- We Can't Wish Away Climate Change
- The Smart Grid, Broadband and Climate Change
- Why Are There So Many Data Centers in Iowa?
- Apple campaign touts progress on reducing environmental impact
- Debate heats up over cybersecurity regulations for electric utilities