Commentary

Search Has Its Head In The Cloud And Hands In Reducing Global Warming

headincloudSearching the Internet contributes to global warming, but tech giants have begun to take steps to reduce the erosion. Apple, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and some of the largest online ad tech companies have been slashing energy consumption in data centers known more commonly these days as cloud servers.

A handful of Internet companies like IBM and Salesforce, other than search engines or social networks, plan to either own their energy for data centers or use green resources. Last week, Yahoo was named as winner in the 2014 DataCenter Dynamics North American Award "Improved Data Center Energy Efficiency" for its joint data center project with SynapSense, a Panduit company that saved 7.5 million kilowatt hours of energy annually.

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The award, sponsored by The Green Grid, recognizes Yahoo's commitment to drive greater energy efficiency in the data center operations through measurement, benchmarking, analysis, recommendation and implementation. The two companies worked to reduce cooling costs by deploying the SynapSense Wireless Environmental Monitoring Solution, improving airflow management, leveraging air economizers and deploying SynapSense Active Control to dynamically match cooling requirements to changes in the IT load.

Google also has a hand in a solar financing deal announced during New Year's week. The agreement backs the 104-megawatt Red Hills solar power plant in Utah covering $157 million. The power plant will owned by a joint partnership between Google and Scatec Solar, which structured and executed the financing for the project. Scatec Solar will manage and operate the plant when it goes into operation.

In 2009, The Sunday Timesreported that Google said a one-hit Google search taking less than a second produces about 0.2g of CO2. The article referred to a Google search that may involve several attempts to find the object being sought and that may last for several minutes. Various experts put forward carbon emission estimates for such a search of 1g-10g depending on the time involved and the equipment used. Now there is a Facebook's data center in Lulea, Sweden, which relies on renewable hydropower.

WordStream released numbers in 2012, suggesting that Google produces more than one-quarter of a million kilograms of CO2 annually to power searches, enough to run a freezer for 5,400 years. One spam message produces the equivalent of 0.3 grams of CO2 and at the time, 62 trillion emails sent produces as much CO2 as 1.6 million cars driving around the earth.

Last year, Apple gave NBC a peek inside its server farm in North Carolina. The company claims it will power the giant server farm with 100% renewable energy, and that it can harness solar power, along with fuel cells from Silicon Valley's Bloom Energy, to power its devices. Google, Yahoo, and Facebook also use some solar power at their data centers.

The President stepped up pro solar use last week. On Twitter, the #GoSolar hashtag become part of the nation-wide Solar Power campaign to promote an event called National Shoutout for Solar, held Jan. 16. As of Sunday afternoon, Obama's post, retweeted more than 7,000 tweets. The search engines Google, Microsoft and Yahoo pay close attention to reducing carbon footprints. Microsoft's search engine Bing.com also supported Obama's hashtag with a link to tweets and stories.

Man with Head in Cloud photo from Shutterstock

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