Claims that curtailing Internet usage would result in power savings have been debunked by new research.
Concerns over the amount of energy generated through Internet use were raised following a report that a Harvard University researcher, Alex Wissner-Gross, estimated as many as 7gm of CO2 were produced with each Google search.
Though Google countered that a search uses only 0.2gm of energy, and Wissner-Gross later refuted the claim as being misquoted in the press, the report has raised awareness that using the Internet can have a similar environmental impact as driving a car.
A report by Ovum research director Steve Hodgkinson, however, states too much hype around the CO2 cost of Internet usage may starve companies of the traffic-related revenues needed to solve the problem.
“The energy used by a Google search is not proportionate to the energy generated by a datacentre,” Hodgkinson said. “Once the inefficiencies on the supply end are reduced the nature of internet usage will become more relevant.”
APC country general manager, Gordon Makryllos, said there were no surprises in the report.
“Most datacentres can reduce their energy use by 30-50 per cent with smarter cooling and power. This would be the first step before any curtailing of Internet usage,” Makryllos said.
“At this stage I can’t foresee energy consumption savings being a result of cutting back of an individuals’ Internet usage.”
Emerson Network Power director of marketing, Peter Spiteri, said the report lacked perspective, but agreed that curtailing internet usage was not a solution.
“Datacentres now are inefficient compared to what? They are more efficient than they were five years ago, and continue to become more so, but are being used much more heavily,” Spiteri said.
“However, putting it into perspective, things like the Internet and video conferencing, while putting more energy through the datacentre, are also reducing the need to travel and taking burdens off other areas of society.”