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The Internet is one of the miracles of our times. The ability for us to all be connected and to share information instantly has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for travel; thereby reducing the amount of CO2 we produce. However, how much CO2 is the Internet itself producing?
We asked Aaron Handford of Solar Energy Host (http://www.solarenergyhost.com.) “The Internet has a big carbon footprint. It is estimated that globally it takes about 868 billion kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity per year to run the Internet, associated PCs, routing infrastructure, and phone network.” Claimed Aaron, “these stats are taken from a variety of sources, and please keep in mind that this is just a rough estimate (http://uclue.com/index.php?xq=724.)
“Of this, about 112.5 Billion kWh are used to power ‘data centers’, which are the servers that store all the websites."
This represents a lot of energy, and potentially a lot of CO2. What can be done to reduce the carbon footprit of the Internet?
“At Solar Energy Host, we power our websites directly with solar energy.” Handford adds, “If your website is currently sitting on a server powered by energy from the grid, then you are tied to a system where you can never be sure where that energy is coming from, possibly from the burning of coal or other greenhouse gas producing sources. Solar Energy Host offers something better by getting your website off the energy grid that our planet is paying a big price for.”
“A server such as ours is “Carbon Free”, which is a step beyond “Carbon Neutral” because you are not adding more pollution and then buying carbon credits to make up for it.”
“It has been estimated (very roughly) that as of early 2007 there were about 108,810,358 websites in existence (http://www.boutell.com/newfaq/misc/sizeofweb.html) so on average, each website uses about 1020 kwh of "data center" energy each year.” Continued Handford.
Handford went on to explain how the data center Solar Energy Host belongs to stops the emission of the following gasses/toxins:
* 19,890 lbs of Carbon Dioxide (CO2/GHG) per year
* 5.9 lbs of Nitrous Oxide (NOX/smog) per year
* 0.45 lbs of Sulfur Dioxide (SO4/acid rain) per year
“We also donate $5 from each account to the ‘Gardens of Hope’ Project. This money funds the planting of one tree and helps link five communities in Lesotho, southern Africa, into a network of projects that share ideas, skills, resources and common purpose while supporting the educational needs of orphaned and vulnerable children.”
Solar Energy Host is part of perhaps the only commercial carbon-free data center in existence.
We had to ask, what happens to your server at night? “Good question,” laughed Handford “We have a large set of batteries, a propane generator, and as a last resort, the conventional energy grid, which we have never needed to resort to!”