Yet another GigaOm article with a linkbait headline but genuinely interesting content, which is well worth a read – “The controversial world of clean power and data centers”.
It’s great to see this issue becoming increasingly mainstream, and in particular businesses starting to be more and more clear about the fact that being efficient is distinct from being green – and that clean power is a much bigger part of the carbon footprint battle than efficiency. They’re also completely on the money in pointing out that data centers need to run on baseload power (ie high and consistent levels) – which you can get easily from coal or from hydro or geo energy but not so easily from wind or solar, meaning that wind/solar powered DCs are not likely to be so realistic and scalable, even though solar panels on the roof are often put in for good PR.
The article does miss one major trick, though – it says that tech companies have to put their data centers near their customers, which is not always true. The exciting part about cloud computing and IaaS is that, for a lot of applications – like data processing – the latency to pretty much any well-connected facility in the world is low enough, which means that the data centers can follow the available green power and can be put down right next to baseload-type green power sources.