Clean power isn’t a leading concern for data center operators

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Greenpeace’s main concern for where Internet companies build their data centers is clean power. That’s why the environmentalists were out protesting at Apple’s store in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday. But data center builders actually think more about the cost of the energy than how clean the source is, and they also think about the potential volatility of the price and supply of that energy.

According to The Data Centre Risk Index from Cushman & Wakefield (hat tip to the Green Data Center Blog) when it comes to energy, data center builders think about cheap energy as a “tier 1” concern, while clean power access and ability to tap into a reliable, non-volatile source of energy are “tier 2” concerns. (Tier 1 is more pressing than Tier 2).

But not surprisingly if you look at the lists below, the countries with the cheapest energy, like Qatar, also have the worst scores for clean power. That’s how it works for now: coal and oil are cheap while cleaner power like solar, wind and biofuels are still generally expensive.

And at the end of the day, energy isn’t even the most important factor for data center builders. The U.S., the U.K. and Germany rank 1, 2, and 3 respectively for bandwidth infrastructure and they correspondingly rank 1, 2 and 3 on the overall list of most friendly countries to building data centers.

Cost of energy:

Lowest cost energy:

  1. Qatar
  2. Russia
  3. South Africa
  4. Thailand
  5. South Korea

Highest cost energy:

  1. Brazil
  2. Australia
  3. Singapore
  4. Japan
  5. Ireland

Most clean power for energy:

  1. Iceland
  2. Brazil
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Indonesia

Worst clean power for energy:

  1. Qatar
  2. Singapore
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Russia
  5. U.K.

Most energy security:

  1. Canada
  2. Australia
  3. Malaysia
  4. Indonesia
  5. Russia

Worst energy security:

  1. Finland
  2. Hong Kong
  3. India
  4. Japan
  5. South Korea

The break down:

1 Comment

michael kanellos

Clean and renewable power really isn’t a good fit for datacenters. The high levels of reliability are just too high. Instead, the focus should-and tends to be–on efficiency. That’s why the Greenpeace rankings are so wacky. Facebook and Yahoo have made huge advances in that department, and Facebook open sourced it. I’m no fan of Facebook, but they probably deserve more recognition than they get.

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