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Future of Internet Power

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Sustainable clouds

While data centers play an important role in the sustainability solutions made possible through computing, they have significant impacts of their own, driving around 1-2 percent of electricity use in the U.S. Many data center operators have responded with strong commitments to energy efficiency.

But when managing the climate impacts of data centers, efficiency has a “twin” that operators must also consider: the source of energy powering them, such as renewables, natural gas, or coal. This energy source can multiply or undermine the climate benefits gained from efficiencies of computing and the efficiencies within the centers themselves. Unlike facility efficiency programs, which face few externally-imposed barriers, company efforts to drive low-carbon sustainable energy sourcing have been met with many challenges.

There are several reasons for this. This first is complexity: For companies to play a meaningful role in advancing low-carbon energy, that energy should be additional (it wouldn’t have been generated anyway), accountable (it conforms to standard reporting), and scalable (it is capable of being easily expanded). Second, making these investments requires collaborating with utilities, which often have regulatory disincentives to do so. And, even once the aforementioned issues are resolved, low-carbon energy often comes at a price premium when compared to more traditional sources of energy that have environmental externalities that are not reflected in their costs.

In order to address these obstacles, BSR has established Future of Internet Power, a group of leading technology companies that will share and promote best practices and develop a platform for driving low-carbon, sustainable power for data centers in collaboration with select utilities and policymakers.

Objectives

  • 1: Increase the level of corporate ownership in sustainable, low-carbon power generation that is additional to “business as usual,” both on- and off-site.
  • 2: Enhance stakeholder understanding about the issues, impacts, constraints, and opportunities for the industry to promote low-carbon sustainable energy sources.
  • 3: Collaborate with utilities to create workable, win-win solutions that promote advances in low-carbon power.

Our Activities

  • Identification of best practices and opportunities
    Developing a common understanding of opportunity areas for data center operators to address obstacles to collaboration with utilities and policymakers in driving new low-carbon, sustainable power in select locations
  • Engagement, education, and alignment
    Facilitating stakeholder forums to promote greater awareness, understanding, and alignment among internal and external stakeholders on shared opportunities
  • Coalition development
    Creating a network of experts and advocates to pursue public-policy advocacy initiatives, and the establishment of a buyer’s group for developing collaborative investments in sustainable, low-carbon power generation.