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Google builds on green credentials with new data center in Finland

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July 10, 2012

Google data center PUE measurement boundaries

Google data center PUE measurement boundaries

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Google says its data centers use half the energy of typical data centers, and its efficiency report for the first quarter of 2012 points to an even greener future. The company's impressive statistics are achieved through simple energy saving methods including efficient temperature management, reductions in residual energy loss and actually constructing its own sites. As the use of cloud computing services become more and more prevalent the data center industry is set to boom and Google is pushing to give keep this expansion green with facilities like its new data center in Hamina, Finland.

The data center industry uses a standard measurement called PUE, or power usage effectiveness, to measure the efficiency of any given site. The ideal PUE rating would be 1.0, and PUE of 2.0 means that for every watt of power used for IT equipment, an additional watt is used in overheads.

Google data center efficiency comparison
Google data center efficiency comparison

Across all its data centers, in all seasons and including all sources of overhead, Google's PUE is 1.13. That means that it loses just 13 percent extra power in overheads (everything from cooling to power distribution), and that number is even lower for Q1 2012, at just 1.11. To put that into context, according to the EPA's Energy Star Program, a typical PUE is 1.92. That makes the search giant more than seven times greener than average. Needless to say, Google is extremely efficient in running its data centers. It claims that the idea of keeping them super cold is a myth and advise others to turn off the dehumidifying and reheating functions on their air conditioners whilst bringing the temperature up to 80° F (26° C) in the cold aisle.

But Google goes to even greater lengths than that. Not only does it use recycled water to save both money and resources, but it constructs its own facilities, carefully selecting climates that exhibit perfect conditions for data centers. A great example of this is the company's new facility in Hamina, Finland, which is built on the Baltic Sea and achieves chiller-less cooling through the use of sea-water.

So what does is this mean in real terms? All the effort that Google goes to, means that the CO2 emissions generated by a single Google query are 850 times less than producing a single newspaper, and a full 10,000 times less than that five-mile car journey to your local library.

And that's not even mentioning the amount of clean energy that Google funnels into the power grid through power purchase agreements (PPAs). It invests in renewable power projects that represent a total combined capacity of over 1.7 GW which, as the search giant is quick to point out, is far more energy than it uses for its own operations. In fact, it's the same amount of energy used to power more than 350,000 homes.

Google is far from being a newcomer to green energy. In April 2011 it invested US$168 million in the world's largest solar power tower plant and in 2008 it announced its "Clean Energy 2030" plan which included proposals to significantly cut vehicle oil consumption, CO2 emissions and US reliance on fossil-fuel based electricity.

Source: Google

About the Author
Chris Wood Chris specializes in mobile technology for Gizmag, but also likes to dabble in the latest gaming gadgets. He has a degree in Politics and Ancient History from the University of Exeter, and lives in Gloucestershire, UK. In his spare time you might find him playing music, following a variety of sports or binge watching Game of Thrones.   All articles by Chris Wood
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3 Comments

The comparison between google query and newspaper / vehicular trip to library is... cool but a bit meaningless in this context, imo. *

Comparing to other internet activities might be more enlightening... such as using Bing or Yahoo, or accessing cloud services.

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* I think it's safe to assume, even without these environmental conscious measures, a single query will produce less CO2 than news paper / 5 mile vehicular trip already. I don't think the argument is about how green digital search / info gathering is vs. conventional methods...

Calvin k
10th July, 2012 @ 03:23 pm PDT

Seeing that most of the Internet searches in the world are pure entertainment.....

Any energy used in most data centres is unnecessary..... (sure I am using the internet as we speak.... and am not advocating we return to the pre-internet dark ages..)

Businesses have used in-house data servers for a while now... they are only outsourcing because the mass consumption on the internet means that the business transactions are a minority of all the traffic.... essentially data centre providers can supply businesses with processing capacity "for nothing" almost without increasing their capacity at all (relatively speaking).. it is the cream on top of the data-centre business model... Providing dedicated servers to corporations allows a degree of exclusivity at minimal actual cost (to both parties) avoiding the corporations the need to maintain their own servers (as much). (Or are the Major corporations subsidising the rest of us on the internet?)

Reducing energy inputs is great, it may even be vital to the ongoing profit of the shareholders.

We are still in the age of globalisation, until it ends.

MD
12th July, 2012 @ 07:19 am PDT

In looking at the green effect Cloud Computing of Critical Infrastructures will have a major impact on the environment in a positive manner.

These are not simply routing data centers. These are centers designed to be a part of what will be the future of electronic technology as you know it today. If you watch market performance in consumer and business electronics you will grasp on to how this evolves in 5-10 years from today. However most simply look at the immediate effect of what they are consuming.

Simple facts;

* The cloud will soon be your business and home data repository & OS system manager.

* I home you will be connected via PAD, Smart Phone, Television, VoIP, and other wireless internet enabled devices.

* The data will be more secure than it is to date and utilize far less energy as the draw will only be on the charged batteries of your home devices. Security because of the redundant storage locations you will have in your cloud.

* Personal PC's eat a wealth of energy. Conventional tools such as copiers, fax machines, paper-mills that make office paper, magazines (Newsweek??) and other 'today' conventional huge carbon footprint makers will vanish.

* Most existing data centers that have not built solid energy designs are utilizing as much as 3 times the amount of energy to cool their facility then what they are using to run the server farms due to fear of downtime due to over heating. This technology will force "Best Practice" ideology which will improve efficiency and reduce carbon footprint beyond belief.

* Stores like Best Buy, Walmart, Sears are reducing real-estate to reduce overhead and focus on the e-commerce piece. Best Buy is planning to shut down all their stores after the holidays and focus on the tablet, pad and phone market at smaller service centers. Circuit City, Borders, and more could not survive due to e-commerce and simply folded. How much energy does it take to light up a Walmart?

* How much gas to you use on your car, the leading cause of CO2, when shopping on line? "0"! Online B2B, B2C, etc has grown to almost 30% of the buying habits today. It has grown almost 4 times its size in the last 10 years.

This will happen! This is the Future! And it has great rewards for the environment. I work with people in the cloud industry, and everything they do is evaluated for continuous conscientious improvement towards the environment.

Steve Muenstermann
12th November, 2012 @ 09:32 am PST
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