Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and services are estimated to double their global carbon emissions to 4 percent of global electricity consumption by 2020, taking an 8-10 percent share of electricity consumption in the EU alone, says John Vassallo, Microsoft vice president for EU affairs and associate general counsel.
Vassallo’s industry assessment, found at EurActive.com, addresses the opportunities the ICT sector could provide at a time when the UK aims to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent over 1990 levels by 2050, and the EU reviews strategies to meet its 2020 20 percent primary energy savings target.
As well, ICT industry leaders are asking the European Commission to provide for a coherent legal framework for cloud computing services which they say would help EU businesses participate in a global market forecast to reach 70 billion euros annually in 2015. The request is part of the industry’s recommendations on a future European Cloud Computing Strategy.
Vassallo says there is great potential for the ICT industry to provide technology to itself and other industry sectors that can reduce the environmental impact of economic growth. Vassallo points to cloud computing – remotely accessing servers, services and infrastructure – as a standout model for energy efficient growth.
He points to recent sustainability improvements at data centers including use of natural cooling, reuse of waste heat and ability to scale up rapidly to increased demand.
Referencing a 2010 Accenture study, “Cloud Computing and Sustainability: The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud,” Vassallo says that large businesses, those with more than 10,000 users, can reduce energy use and carbon emission by more than 30 percent by turning to cloud computing.
Small- and medium-sized businesses of up to 100 users would see reductions of more 90 percent, Vassallo says.
Vassallo also said that at large U.S. businesses, 15 percent of servers are completely idle, and estimated that globally billions of dollars are wasted on hardware, maintenance, management, energy and cooling.