The Internet is perhaps one of the greatest technological advances of our time. It gives us the ability to be connected and to share information instantly with the potential to dramatically reduce our need for travel; thereby reducing the amount of CO2 emissions we produce. But, how much CO2 is the Internet itself producing?
We asked Aaron Handford, President of MyGreenHosting how much carbon the net itself is generating and he had some surprising answers. According to Handford, “The Internet has a big carbon footprint. It’s 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 networks.” (http://uclue.com/index.php?xq=724.)
He notes, “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 emissions. What can be done to reduce the carbon footprint of the Internet? Handford has some suggestions for those willing to research the net itself for answers. “There are web hosting packages now available that are responding to the need to be ‘carbon friendly’. My company MyGreenHosting powers 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. MyGreenHosting offers consumers another choice – a way to get your website off the energy grid.”
A new wave of these solar powered companies is on the leading cusp of moving away from traditional power sources.
Says Handford: “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 that as of early 2007 there were about 108,810,358
of these websites in existence. (See the link below for
further details. (http://www.boutell.com/newfaq/misc/sizeofweb.html)
This means that on average, each website uses about 1020 kwh of "data center" energy each year.
Handford went on to explain that the data center used by MyGreenHosting 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
He is also following a socially responsible business model by giving back. “We donate five dollars from each account to the ‘Gardens of Hope’ Project,” says Handford. “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.”
MyGreenHosting 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 use!”
Looks like the future is now.
For more information about MyGreenHosting please visit:
Deirdre Rowland is a media specialist and communications consultant who works with visionaries and organizations with a values based lens. Her favorite projects are the ones that make the world a better place.