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Reporting on data center renewables is still a very uneven playing field, but some firms are pushing ahead to higher levels of sustainability
First, the good news: According to the IEA, despite the massive surge in global internet traffic in 2020, efficiencies gained in the shift from legacy corporate facilities to hyperscale and cloud data centers are currently flattening power consumption at around the 200 TWh mark, or around 0.8% of global final electricity demand.
The ICT industry as a whole is also making good progress in setting voluntary efficiency and CO2 emissions targets, with the agreement in February 2020 of a science-based target to lower GHG emissions by 45% by 2030.
At the same time, the biggest data center operators – mainly the hyperscalers - are leading the world in renewable procurement. Overall, ICT companies have accounted for about half of global corporate renewables procurement over the last five years.
The big numbers are impressive, but what about the next level down, i.e. medium-to-large enterprises? And what if, as the trends suggest, their power footprint is spread across third party cloud data centers? Are the efficiencies their providers are implementing - and emissions reductions in particular - being passed on?
The answer is yes, but not for all, as reporting on data center renewables is still a very uneven playing field. Despite all the progress in renewables procurement by large data centers, a lot of firms are still not sharing the benefits in their environmental reporting. Many businesses still find it easier to buy carbon credits from a third party than earn them through their own - or their existing partners - efforts.
But there are also some winners emerging. The early adopters of the new Iron Mountain Data Centers Green Power Pass (GPP) are taking advantage of this new simpler Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting solution, which capitalizes on Iron Mountain’s 100% renewable-powered colocation platform plus the latest cross-industry protocols to deliver simple and reliable Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction reporting for enterprises of any size, worldwide.
Akamai also signed up for a Green Power Pass to boost its renewables score. When the IMDC New Jersey facility came online, it provided Akamai with enough renewable power a year to support 21,000 MW/hrs of load. That is equivalent to 1,752 MWh per month running at 100%. Even at 90% (the pilot target), the data center received 1,577 MWh of renewable energy per month, which represented 6% of the company’s total U.S. electricity load and 4% of its global load.
“The Green Power Pass doesn’t just help Akamai reach its business and sustainability goals, it helps everyone. Ultimately, if we’re ever going to bring about real environmental change, we all have to work together,” said Mike Mattera, Director of Sustainability, Akamai.