Cloud Computing Reduces Carbon Emissions 30 - 90 Percent
Carbon Emissions reduction greatest for small companies with up to 100 users, but also significant for larger companies
Technology companies have been touting cloud computing as a cost-effective solution for businesses and consumers. Now an AccentureWSP Energy & Environment study commissioned by Microsoft is also showing that companies will significantly reduce carbon emissions by switching from on-site servers to cloud computing.
The environmental benefits are greatest for small companies, with a deployment of 100 users reducing carbon emissions by more than 90 percent with a switch to cloud computing. According to the study, this is because small businesses running their own servers generally operate at a low usage level with servers idling for much of the day.
But cloud computing works for larger groups, too. A mid-size deployment with a thousand users will reduce emissions 60 to 90 percent with cloud computing, and a ten-thousand-user deployment can reduce emissions 30 to 60 percent. The reason for the lower results correlating with more users is that very large companies run their own data centers and have financial reasons for using more energy-saving techniques.
More studies on the topic of cloud computing and energy usage will be released soon, including one from the University of Melbourne, which runs a Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems (CLOUDS) Laboratory dedicated to researching the topic.
But while the use of cloud computing is undoubtedly more economical and efficient for most situations, the data centers that provide cloud services are growing, and as they do, the energy consumption of their data centers and hence carbon emissions is increasing. The projected rate of energy consumption growth, according to a Greenpeace study, is 9 percent per year in this decade. Environmental advocates are urging Facebook, Google, and other cloud computing providers to continue to reduce their data center emissions and to provide transparency by making their data center energy use statistics and carbon emissions reduction plans public.