It's easy to use Google and not think about what it takes to power such a massive empire. Have you ever thought about how much electricity Google uses? For the first time, Google release information about its electricity use stating that data centers used 260 million megawatts of power in 2010.
The New York Times likens this to enough energy to power nearly 200,000 homes or a quarter of the output of power from a nuclear power plant. Gizmodo takes it one step further writing that it's more than enough to power the whole of Salt Lake City and then some -- Salt Lake City only has 186,440 people.
But Google, the Times reports, says it's still making the planet greener. The Times has more:
Up to now, the company has kept statistics about its energy use secret. Industry analysts speculate it was because the information was embarrassing and would also give competitors a clue to how Google runs its operations.
While the electricity figures may seem large, the company asserts that the world is a greener place because people use less energy as a result of the billions of operations carried out in Google data centers. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, drives to the library. “They look big in the small context,” Urs Hoelzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said in an interview. [...]
Google also estimated that its total carbon emissions for 2010 were just under 1.5 million metric tons, with most of that attributable to carbon fuels that provide electricity for the data centers. In part because of special arrangements the company has made to buy electricity from wind farms, Google says that 25 percent of its energy was supplied by renewable fuels in 2010, and estimates that figure will reach 30 percent in 2011.
According to Data Center Knowledge (via Gizmodo), of the energy use of data centers worldwide, Google uses less than 1 percent of the 198.8 billion kilowatt hours of total electricity that is estimated for data centers in 2010. Google says it achieved this with some of the most efficient data centers in the world -- up to 50 percent more efficient than other data centers.
Dennis Symanski, a senior data center project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, told the Times that he believes Google releasing this information will give other companies incentive to publicly appear greener and drive competition for top spot as the greenest data center.
This electricity figure, the Times reports, includes all of Google's campuses worldwide, but does not include the electricity used by personal computers, tablets, iPhones, etc., that are using the search engine.