Data Centers Waste Vast Amounts of Energy, Belying Industry Image - NYT
Power, Pollution and the Internet
Ethan Pines for The New York Times
.... Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an
incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online
companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the
clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90
percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.
To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of
generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has
increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air
regulations, documents show. In Silicon Valley, many data centers appear
on the state government's Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory, a roster of
the area's top stationary diesel polluters.
Worldwide, the digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of
electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power
plants, according to estimates industry experts compiled for The Times.
Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third
of that load, the estimates show.
"It's staggering for most people, even people in the industry, to
understand the numbers, the sheer size of these systems," said Peter
Gross, who helped design hundreds of data centers. "A single data center
can take more power than a medium-size town."....