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What data centers' growing energy use means for utilities

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Article by Utility DIve

Thanks to a data center somewhere, you can share photos, download music and read this article. As our work and home lives depend more and more on the Internet, Utility Dive is looking at data centers' energy use and what it means for electric utilities.

Data centers today are using more and more power, albeit at about half the pace the Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2007. Data centers accounted for 1.7% to 2.2% of all electricity used in the U.S. in 2010, according to a report by Jonathan Koomey, a Stanford University professor who focuses on climate change and information technology issues.

One thing to keep in mind: Not all data centers are the same. Koomey breaks down data centers into four main types. Public cloud computing providers, which are highly efficient. Think Amazon, Google and Facebook. Then there are scientific computing centers and co-location facilities that house servers for other companies to use. Finally, there are on-site data centers, which represent the largest segment in terms of electric use. These are also the least efficient energy users.

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