Does Cloud Computing Really Save Energy?

A new study released by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit carbon reporting organization in England that we reported on last year for helping Walmart reduce its carbon impact, suggests that U.S. companies who use cloud computing can save a total of $12.3 billion in energy costs each year by the year 2020.

The study was supported by the analyst firm Verdantix and funded by AT&T, and claims that switching services to online-based systems will save 85.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions by the year 2020, as companies move from having 10% of their information technology involved in cloud computing to 69% by the same year.

Cloud Computing

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AT&T, one of the biggest service providers in the world, and by extension of of the biggest polluters, has been looking to reduce its carbon footprint, recently planning to install several fuel cell boxes at facilities in California. A spokesperson for the company says the CDP study is encouraging to business looking to be more efficient and save on up-front infrastructure costs.

The CDP report, which collected data from firms like Boeing, noted a sometimes a 4o% to 50% drop in energy costs by switches to cloud-based systems. While this does sound grand, a recent cry from Greenpeace earlier this year notes that the increase in online and computer use is having its own impacts on the planet due to utility providers still using coal and other dirty energy sources instead of wind or solar renewables.

The full report is available one via the CDP website.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.