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Yes, I do think businesses have a duty to try to source renewable energy

Took some direct hits the other day when I posted an item about the Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness about the potential energy demands of cloud computing.Greenpeace claims that the cloud will put unprecedented demand on data centers, which, in turn will put more demand on an electric grid that is powered mainly by coal.
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Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Took some direct hits the other day when I posted an item about the Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness about the potential energy demands of cloud computing.

Greenpeace claims that the cloud will put unprecedented demand on data centers, which, in turn will put more demand on an electric grid that is powered mainly by coal. It cited as its primary evidence a new Facebook facilitiy that COULD have been sourced more greenly than apparently is the case. Well, I say ‘duh’ to these revelations.

So, why did I post this particular item? Mainly because I think that the big cloud operators could have a profound impact on the development of renewable energy sources by partnering up with utilities, states and communities where renewable energy sources are available. In fact, I think the biggest of the big have a responsibility to do so.

Which brings me to part two of these particular post: A new deal between Kaiser Permanente and  Recurrent Energy to build solar power systems at 15 different hospitals and office facilities. In aggregate, the systems are capable of producing 15 megawatts of power, which can be aggregated across Kaiser’s facilities.

Recurrent now has more than 1 gigawatt of distributed solar capacity in North America and Europe. The latest deployments are scheduled to be online by the summer of 2011.

When they are completed, the systems will carry approximately 10 percent of the power load at sites in Vallejo and Santa Clara in Northern California and Fontana and San Diego in Southern California.

Kaiser is developing the systems with Recurrent, which will actually own them. Kaiser will buy the power through solar power purchase agreements. And, low and behold, this will make recurrent eligible for a 30 percent tax credit because Kaiser is a not-to-profit organization.

Kaiser will look to additional renewable energy sources in the future to continue building out its distributed system.

So far, Kaiser has managed to save up to $10 million per year in its energy conservation efforts.

So, I’ll put this one back out to the cloud for discussion. Yes, the cloud should and will happen. But as data center power usages rises, don’t you think we should buy it from the greenest sources possible?

[poll id="225"]

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