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Data, Infrastructure, Google Cloud Strategy, Sustainability, Google Cloud Leadership, Energy

Google Championing Carbon-Free Energy to Power Data Centers

By Sabina Bhasin | April 20, 2021

Data centers house the computing power we need for many of our favorite cloud-based applications and services. With this power comes the increase in carbon emissions and the destruction of wildlife and the environment. To help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, Google continues to improve its data centers and stays committed to using carbon-free energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.


Why CFE?


In the early years of cloud computing, many large Silicon Valley tech companies recognized the need to reduce the amount of energy required to power their equipment. The goal for tech companies like Google is to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, lower their carbon footprints, and stem from the "Go Green" movement.

With a carbon-free emissions (CFE) effort, data centers use renewable energy and function mainly on hydroelectric power. Both renewable energy and hydroelectric power produce no carbon emissions, which is better for the environment. To help display to the public that they are doing their part, many of the more prominent tech companies with data centers worldwide provide metrics that show their initiatives.


Using CFE Metrics for Business


Companies such as Google publish these metrics for the general public, but it also helps businesses determine where to run their applications. The higher the CFE rating, the more likely you can run an application in the specific region without affecting emission results. Google suggests running applications in zones with the highest CFE metrics, but using scripts to automate processes at a specific time in the day will also reduce the energy necessary to power applications.

In particular, Google indicates that their U.S.-based Iowa and Oregon data centers produce the least amount of carbon emissions. If you can run your application in these zones without harming application performance, a majority of your computing power would not produce any carbon. According to Google, its best cloud locations in terms of CFE are Sao Paulo, Brazil (87%), Finland (77%), Oregon, U.S. (89%).


Choosing Google Cloud Regions with Low CFE


To contribute to a lower carbon footprint, you would choose a data center with the best CFE rating, but there are complications for some application owners. Selecting a region away from most users will increase latency and lower performance for your users. Also, application owners who must focus on compliance are restricted to specific regions. These concerns could make it challenging to choose an area with the best CFE rating.

Google has some basic suggestions to help you choose a region and run applications with lower carbon emissions:

  • Pick a region with the best CFE rating where you can permanently run your new applications.

  • Run batch jobs in regions with the best CFE rating. Batch jobs usually run during off-peak hours and can run anywhere without affecting your application performance.

  • Set a corporate policy around choosing data centers with a high CFE rating.

  • Improve the efficiency of cloud resources so that they do not take as much computing power to run.


Bottom Line


Google has been committed to CFE since 2007, but the tech giant plans to be completely carbon-free by 2030. You, too, can do your part by choosing a data center that works with renewable energy and uses equipment that reduces the need to rely on fossil fuels. By working with data centers with a high CFE rating, you do your part to preserve the environment.


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