Right now there are more than 3 billion people online. Billions of devices that are glowing in the faces of users hungry for information and entertainment. Devices and machines that are in turn hungry for electricity. If you think that surfing the internet takes only as much energy as to power your laptop, desktop or tablet your are in for a big surprise.
In reality, data centers make up a large percentage of the energy consumption of the Internet as a whole. In fact, if the Internet were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth.
Ok, so this doesn’t consume as much energy as other industries (like the cement industry for example), however looking at the rate the Information Technology and Internet as a whole is growing, makes up a good reason to do something about it now. Experts estimate that by 2017 there will be a half a trillion kilowatt rise in energy consumption for web-based activities. Most of this is derived primarily for streaming video, which is predicted to account for 76 percent of Internet usage by 2018.
Clicking Clean for a green Internet
Through the power of the Internet, many people around the world experienced positive changes in their lives. It is one of the most important breakthroughs in our era and it will certainly facilitate our evolution moving forward. However, if we want to make the switch to a renewable powered society fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, the Internet must also be a platform to transition the world toward a renewable energy future. It is a powerful medium for spreading information and thus can educate a lot of people towards sustainable and clean practices.
In addition, leading by example would be one of the most important markers for this change. Having this industry commit to clean and sustainable energy sources can, perhaps inspire morality to other industries and they will follow as well. In the end it all comes down to our collective aspirations and the choices we make, Clicking Clean – or choosing to support companies that follow this ideology – can be our greatest tool for achieving this goal.
If having the audacity to rely on grid power now puts a company at risk for public shaming, then the day is coming when every company’s energy usage will be viewed through a moral filter – similar to how its labor practices and foreign investments are viewed today.
– David Crane, NRG CEO
See the companies that host much of the Internet in their data centers and how green they are
The good news is that a growing number of companies have begun to create a corner of the internet that is renewably powered and coal free, with over a half dozen major internet companies now committed to being 100% renewably powered. Renewable commitments by internet companies have had a big impact in driving renewable power in several key markets, as a growing number of utilities have begun to shift their investments to renewable energy to meet this new demand.
A Greenpeace report shows the big players are stacking up: [Report Here]
Apple is leading the way with an 100% Clean Energy Index. Since 2012, all of Apple’s data centers have been powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources. That means no matter how much data they handle, there is a zero greenhouse gas impact on the environment from their energy use. These data centers use renewable energy sources like solar, wind, biogas fuel cells, micro‑hydro power, and geothermal power from onsite and locally obtained resources.
On any given day, our data centers will use renewable energy to serve tens of billions of messages, more than a billion photos, and tens of millions of FaceTime video calls. They also run services like Siri, the iTunes Store, the App Store, and Maps. So every time a song is downloaded from iTunes, an app is installed from the Mac App Store, or a book is downloaded from iBooks, the energy Apple uses is provided by nature.
They also have an environment section on their official website, which is really nice to see in a tech giant such as Apple.
Google also has the goal of powering their operations 100% on clean energy. They have committed to purchase nearly 2 gigawatts of renewable energy to date, making them the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. Google also committed to separately invest $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects, which also makes them one of the largest corporate investors in renewable energy in the world.
We believe that by helping power more of the world with renewable energy through these two initiatives, we’re creating a better future for everyone.
Check out their Google Green webpage and find out more about their efforts in this area.
Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft are also already on their way to achieving this. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other high-profile entrepreneurs have pledged to spark a “new economic revolution” based around clean energy after launching a new investment drive for renewables.
The Internet of Things has the potential to reduce power consumption to a minimum
For those of you who are not familiar with the concept yet,The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity—that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
More and more smart devices or things are appearing on the shelves of stores. The most popular ones are regular household items, like smart light-bulbs or thermostats that have motion detection sensors which may only trigger when there is activity in the room. The same principles can apply to cooling appliances. For you it may come as a convenience, maybe even a cost savings. For society and the environment, it’s a precious mouthful of fresh air, decreasing costs and pollution at the same time.
Imagine this on a larger scale like industrial, for companies or even grander to an environment level. The possibilities are endless. Supply chain control, marine pollution, commercial fleet tracking – all of these sectors could be revolutionized with the introduction of simple IoT. Smart sensors could monitor and regulate power consumption, and report in the event of technical issues.
I really believe in the huge potential that technology brings. All the above are very good examples of technology helping the society and the environment, if used properly. It is up to us – the creators, makers, builders, users – to make conscious decisions moving forward, decisions like…. Clicking Clean.
P.S.: If you want to join the Greenpeace Clicking Clean campaign and make the Internet greener you can sign the petition here.