Data Centers optimize

Google uses 260 megawatt-hours of electricity

According to Google, the company's data centers used 260 megawatt-hours of electricity in 2010.

When you read the headline above, you probably have the immediate reaction: Wow that is a bunch of electricity. And that initial assessment is correct, but there is more to the story than just the 2.6 million megawatts. Google is well aware of its extreme power requirements and the company has taken steps to mitigate the impact.

In a blog post on ZDNet, Heather Clancy reports that Google has invested in renewable energy technologies which produce about 1.7 gigawatts of power capacity. That capacity, coupled with its carbon offset purchases, means Google is virtually carbon-neutral.

You can read about Google's efforts to mitigate its carbon footprint on its Google Green site.

Whether you accept Google's power use data and its efforts to reduce the environmental impact or not, there is one clear concept to remember when it comes to energy use of any kind: inefficiency increases cost. Even if your data center is one 10-year old PC running Windows XP, you want to use power in the most efficient way you can. Doing so will not only help reduce your impact on the environment; it will also reduce your cost of operations.

With that in mind, I am curious how your organization approaches power use reduction. Does your organization actively monitor the power used by its data center? Have you opted to let another company manage your data center? Are you outsourcing your data center in an effort to reduce the cost of your power consumption?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

11 comments
Sustainable Me
Sustainable Me

So, if the world???s energy consumption is 18000 terawatt-hours (per year) & Google is 2.6 terawatt-hours (per year) then this equals 0.014r% or the world???s energy consumption. Or as Google says ???2.26 kWh per user per year or 188 watt-hours per month. That???s about the same as using a 60W light bulb for 3 hours (180 watt-hours)???. This is based on their 1 billion users. [b]Not bad for something we all rely on so heavily![/b] Regarding carbon credits, all this really does is push the problem around. What needs to happen is that we become more energy efficient. If you're interested in improving the energy efficiency of your data center or building, I highly recommend you have a look at this website. They offer free online energy efficiency training. http://www.schneider-electric.com.au/sites/australia/en/company/energy-university-free-online-training.page

dave
dave

something that doesn't make sense. You are not really rneutral unless you are not using ANY non-renewable energy sources. Just because you buy some credits (and who knows just where those credits came from or if they are 100% legit) doesn't mean that you've stopped putting carbon into the air through your operations. Unless you are actually reducing your power consumption you are not really going in the right direction. If I buy some credits does that my breathing becomes carbon neutral?

AtlantaTerry
AtlantaTerry

The math does not seem right. Or as Robby the Robot said, "Does Not Compute!"

Roger Bamforth
Roger Bamforth

2.6 million megawatt-hours is 2.6 terawatt-hours. A quick bit of googling shows that the world electricity consumption in 2010 was 18 billion kilowatt-hours, or 18 terawatt-hours. So, unless I've got a decimal point in the wrong place, Google is responsible for 14% of the entire worlds electricity consumption.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

...In fact, we have specifically created our own firewall and servers to go as green as possible while looking for better solutions. 22W for a firewall, and 28W for a file server isn't bad for a SOHO application, but I think we can do better. Our goal is to bring the firewall down below 18W and the file server down to 25W. In the future we will be building a larger file server drawing 35W and an application / VoIP server at 25W. In use, our 5 desk SOHO rack currently draws 98W, but the future versions will draw only 88W with a file server, application / VoIP server, firewall with IDS and a 16 port switch. The stack only measures about 8u with a patch panel, cable management, and spacers for air flow, making this a compact rack which we built into a printer stand to save space. Better still, the heat produced is minimal, so no cooling or special air handling is needed, saving more money. You will note that there was no mention of a web or email server. These functions demand more power and bandwidth and the consumption of these resources does not track the yield. Tasks like these are farmed out to hosting companies which are paid less than the increased bandwidth use and power to run the machines and cool them would cost me.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Does your organization actively monitor the power used by its data center? Have you opted to let another company manage your data center?

decryobliviots
decryobliviots

The real problem is is not energy consumption, nor pollution, nor lack of food production, but the true elephant in the room that few are willing to speak of, let alone seek solutions for...that there are approximately twice more than the sustainable number of people on this planet. Much as I hate to approve of anything the Chinese government has done...and I absolutely abhor some of the methods they use...they are the only country to seriously address this issue. Until you can convince the rest of Asia, Africa, South and Central Americas and Mexico to adopt negative population growth solutions, the human race is pretty much doomed. I will point out that were it not for immigrants from those same areas, the U.S. and Canada would already have achieved negative population growth. I don't have accurate numbers for Europe or Australia. We passed the point where we (the human race as a whole) are willing to spent the trillions of (pick a currency) it would take to open up new frontiers for expansion off-planet at just about the same time as the technology to make it possible began to appear, half a century ago. Without one or the other, we don't have any hope of surviving as a civilization - or perhaps as a species - for even as long as the relatively short-lived nation of the United States has been around.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The ZDNet blog post had a typo that I propagated without thinking to hard about obviously. It should say 260 megawatt-hours. Thanks for pointing it out.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The ZDNet blog post had a typo that I propagated without thinking to hard about obviously. It should say 260 megawatt-hours. Thanks for pointing it out.

Roger Bamforth
Roger Bamforth

It's not your blog, Google themselves say their consumption was 2,259,998 MWh in 2010. http://www.google.com/green/the-big-picture/references.html I got the 18 TWH (actually 18 billion kWH) for the world consumption from here http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=xx&v=81 and they cite the CIA world fact book. So either: I've done the sums wrong (seems most likely but I can't see where) Google have their own figures wrong The CIA have the world figures wrong or Google really does use 14% of the world's electricity (I'm sure that's wrong though) So which is it? Anyway enough of this, I really should get back to work!

Roger Bamforth
Roger Bamforth

The world consumption isn't 18 billion kWH it's 18k billion kWH (i.e 18,000 TWH). I misread the graph. Why can't we all just use scientific notation and avoid all this million/billion/zillion nonsense?