Greenpeace on major impact of rapid growth in digital consumption
Apple is not only the most valuable brand in the world it is also the greenest IT company according to a recent ranking by Greenpeace. All three of its data center expansions announced inthe past year will be powered with renewable energy.Apple is also having a positive impact on pushing major colocation providers to help it maintain progress toward its 100% renewable energy goal.
The report notes that:
• Colocation companies continue to lag far behind consumer-facing data center operators in seeking renewable energy to power their operations, but Equinix’s adoption of a 100% renewable energy commitment and offering of renewably hosted facilities is an important step forward.
• Google continues to match Apple in deploying renewable energy with its expansion in some markets, but its march toward 100% renewable energy is increasingly under threat by monopoly utilities for several data centers including those in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Singapore and Taiwan.
• Amazon’s adoption of a 100% renewable energy goal, while potentially significant, lacks basic transparency and, unlike similar commitments from Apple, Facebook or Google, does not yet appear to be guiding Amazon’s investment decisions toward renewable energy and away from coal.
• The rapid rise of streaming video is driving significant growth in our online footprint, and in power-hungrydata centers and network infrastructure needed to deliver it.
• Microsoft has slipped further behind Apple and Google in the race to build a green internet, as its cloud footprint continues to undergo massive growth in an attempt to catch up with Amazon, but has not kept pace with Apple and Google in terms of its supply of renewable electricity.
• Data center operators committed to renewable energy goals will need to redouble their efforts to work together to push policymakers for changes that allow them to procure renewable energy, overcoming the resistance of monopoly utilities.
The magic of the internet seems almost limitless. But each new internet enabled magic trick means more and more data, now growing over 20% each year.
The emergence of cheap smart phones means that internet traffic from mobile devices will soon exceed what is delivered over wired connections. Global mobile data was estimated to increase by a whopping 69% in 2014, and is expected to maintain its breakneck growth through at least 2019, due to the rapid increase of video streaming to mobile devices and as more of the world’s population gains basic access to the internet via smart phones.
The online population topped 3 billion in 2014, and mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to jump to a staggering 7.6 billion by 2020. While there may be significant energy efficiency gains from moving our lives online, the explosive growth of our digital lives is outstripping those gains. Publishing conglomerates now consume more energy from their data centers than their printing presses. Greenpeace has estimated that the aggregate electricity demand of our digital Apple is the Greenest infrastructure back in 2011 would have ranked sixth in the world among countries.
The rapid transition to streaming video models, as well as tablets and other thin client devices that supplant on-device storage with the cloud, means more and more demand for data center capacity, which will require more energy to power.
The transition to online distribution models, such as video streaming, appears to deliver a reduction in the carbon footprint over traditional models of delivery. However, in some cases, this shift may simply be enabling much higher levels of consumption, ultimately increasing the total amount of electricity consumed and the associated pollution from electricity generation. Unless leading internet companies find a way to leapfrog traditional, polluting sources of electricity, the convenience of streaming could cause us to increase our carbon footprint.
Full report http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/usa/ planet3/PDFs/2015ClickingClean.pdf