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Internet Energy Use

Most of us can’t imagine a modern world without the internet. However, we probably don’t think a whole lot about the amount of energy needed to power it up.

The internet uses mass amounts of energy. This infographic from WirelessSatelliteInternet.org. lays out the rising energy consumption of the more than 2.4 billion internet users worldwide. The graphic highlights the fact that internet use takes up 1.5% of all global electricity, or the equivalent of the amount produced from 30 nuclear power plants. Also stated, the U.S. takes more electrical energy to power up data centers than the entire automobile industry, and prospectively estimated that by 2015 European data centers will use up enough electricity to run 8 million households.

So what’s the answer to decrease power use and keep up with sustainable energy progress and an even greater need in the future? Well, the answer is there probably is no one answer, but ideally more than one.

One option is cloud computing powered by renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, which asserts to be a more efficient way for an internet outsized world to compute. Without going into individual or commercial security concerns that come with any type of online endeavor and some critics say even more so with this type of data storage, cloud computing does tip the efficiency scale more in its favor.

According to cleantechnica.com all things on the internet double about every two years and in 2011 online information tipped 1.8 trillion gigabytes with most of it being kept in conventional data centers which use up lots of energy. Half of this energy is expended on what is required to actually run the internet and the other portion of energy used goes into cooling processes or is wasted in heat. According to the cloud computing model, money and energy will be saved and carbon emissions will be lowered.

Another answer is to encompass sustainable computing practices all around. Something as simple as disconnecting and unplugging when not using or when fully charged may not seem like much when it is just one person, but it is huge when you times it by the stated 2.4 billion wide-reaching internet users.

Though the web does have its energy saving advantages like the power that is saved via online processes, for example telecommuting in comparison to traditional amounts of energy used to run entire offices and companies, it is only smart to look into more resourcefu ways to use daily objects. Energy efficient ventures are important particularly regarding things that are here to stay, and not getting any smaller.

Baillie, R. July 10, 2012. Why the Cloud is Sustainability’s Silver Lining. Retrieved from GreenBiz.com
Baillie, R. July 9, 2012. Big Data Goes Green. Retrieved from RenewableEnergyWorld.com

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