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How Much Energy Per Tweet?

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Every time you send out 140 characters over the social application Twitter, how much energy does that consume? According to some back of the napkin calculations from Raffi Krikorian, a developer for Twitter’s Platform Team, each tweet sent consumes about 90 joules. That means each tweet emits about 0.02 grams of C02 into the atmosphere.

So the roughly 50 million tweets sent on average per day delivers the equivalent of 1 metric ton of CO2. (1 metric ton of CO2 looks kinda like this).

That’s actually not bad at all — in comparison one Google search query has been found to consume about 1 kilojoule per query, which emits 0.2 grams of CO2. And according to a recent study each spam email message emits 0.3 grams of carbon.

However the research does remind us that IT takes energy to run and the energy consumption — and carbon emissions — footprint of IT is just growing bigger every day. For example, Greenpeace recently put out a report that said that the energy consumption and carbon emissions of cloud computing are already significantly higher than previously thought. Folks in the developer community like Krikorian are acknowledging the problem, and as he says in the video clip: “We can do better.”

Here’s his slides from the talk:

To learn more about how the Internet can deliver dematerialization (replacing atoms with bits) come to our Green:Net conference on April 29 in San Francisco, and hear from Jonathan Koomey, Project Scientist and Consulting Professor, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University, Molly Webb, Head of Strategic Engagement, The Climate Group, Casey Harrell, IT Analyst, Greenpeace International, Saul Griffith Co-Founder, Squid Labs and Alexis Madrigal, Staff Writer,

For more research on how the Internet can deliver dematerialization see Study: ‘Cyber Monday’ 50 Times Greener Than ‘Black Friday’, on GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Images courtesy of Twitter and krazydad/jbum’s photostream.

17 Responses to “How Much Energy Per Tweet?”

  1. Stop Using Google?

    At the rate of .2 grams of co2 per search and 2 billion searches a day, Google produces about 12,500 Metric Tons of co2 per year, making it one of most polluting corporations in the world.

  2. I assume that when they built the 27-foot cube, they were modeling 1T of CO2 at standard temperature and pressure, yes? Something a LOT of people seem to be forgetting about….

    Incidentally, the site’s JavaScript is broken; the CAPTCHA validation fails in every single Mac browser I tried: WebKit-based browsers like Safari and Google Chrome, Opera 10.10 and Firefox. How much CO2 is wastefully emitted by people trying to deal with (by definition broken) IE-only sites?

  3. Chris K

    This is why every site should replace Flash video with HTML5 video. Imagine the world-wide energy savings from using less of the cpu? Enormous I bet.

  4. Perhaps if you just turned off your compute for a week, I could use mine to actually get work done. And turn off some of these blog ads. I’m sure lots of energy can be saved that way. Imagine how much could be save if this blog had no commenting system.