Powering Data Centers with Renewable Energy

Powering Data Centers with Renewable Energy

The typical Internet data center consumes as much electricity as a small U.S. state, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard, told attendees at the Verge 16 sustainability conference in Silicon Valley today.

As oceans warm, lakes dry up and water systems collapse due to climate change, the tech giants enabling cloud computing are mobilizing so surfing the web doesn’t contribute to the problem.

“It’s easy to get discouraged,” Bernard acknowledged, recommending attendees read the e-book, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, to gain perspective on tech’s role our global plight.

Microsoft is already carbon-neutral and is powered by 40-45 percent wind, hydro and solar, said Bernard. The company has committed to reach 50 percent renewable energy by the end of 2018, 60 percent early in the next decade and to keep improving from there.

Bernard praised innovators marrying technology to deliver renewable energy at scale in developing nations.                                                  

In East Africa, for example, more than 500 households a day are replacing dirty wood and kerosene fuel by connecting to community solar energy projects built by M-KOPA, said Bernard.