How cloud migration saves CO2 emissions

How cloud migration saves CO2 emissions

Data centers are responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. How do Google and Atos minimize their impact on the environment?

Google and Atos are well known for their Cloud capabilities. What is however less known, is their experience in sustainability. Both Google and Atos are operating 100% CO2 neutral [1,2]. Already since 2017, Google and Atos run world’s most energy efficient data center operations, fully powered by renewable energy.

This means that a Cloud migration has immediate effects on your own operations. If sustainability is on top of your agenda and a significant share of your operations are powered with ‘grey’ electricity, shifting workloads to Google’s Cloud has an immediate effect on your CO2 emissions.

Renewable revolution

Google and Atos’ transition isn’t straightforward. Since renewable energy sources cannot guarantee a constant supply of electricity and since a datacenter runs 24/7, a constant supply of electricity is crucial. Google and Atos therefore have engineered long term power purchase agreements with energy companies that i) secure their need for renewable energy and ii) secure the bankability of renewable energy projects, increasing the capacity.

Using this method, Google has already invested over a billion dollars in renewable energy. This makes Google the largest sustainable energy purchasing company in the world; quite an accomplishment.

Power Usage Effectiveness?

Besides powering its data centers with renewable energy, Google has also invested heavily in running its operations as resource efficiently as possible. Google and Atos have used ML and AI technology to analyse their own processes, searching for ways to optimize them which for example resulted in a reduction of cooling costs by almost 40% for Google [4]. This technology is also used by other clients of Google and Atos.

To measure the efficiency of a data center the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) can be used. On this PUE, Google scores a 1.12 which means that only 12% of the energy consumed by datacenters is used for overhead activities such as cooling and other non-core processes. Other datacenters in the industry usually show PUE’s of 2, meaning that energy consumed by servers and energy used for ancillary activities is almost equal. Google has been reducing its PUE significantly over time: