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Water for the net July 16, 2009

Posted by David in Water/Energy Connection.
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Data Centers Are Huge Water Guzzlers

We don’t often think of our internet use as being a major source of water consumption, but it’s time we do give it some thought.  In his article Quenching the Thirst of Power Hungry Data Centers in Data Center Journal, author Rick Cockrell says,  “Today’s data centers now consume more water than the food, paper, auto, plastics, wood, and petroleum industries.”   How much water?  Approximately 120 billion gallons of water use per year for data centers alone

That use is expected to double by the end of 2011 and every 5 years thereafter.  Most of that water use is a result of the power consumed by the data centers.  Energy production in the United States is the single largest water use category, accounting for about 40% of all water used in this country (mostly for cooling purposes at power plants).  This does not take into account the water used onsite by data centers for cooling of equipment, mostly through the use of coolng towers.  This could add another 1 to 2 million gallons of water annually for the avergae data center site.

I don’t know how much water per Tweet this ends up being, but it is important to recognize that every action we take which uses energy also consumes water.  Even something as seemingly green and ecological as web surfing for the latest organic cotton clothing (or blogging on the latest water conservation news for that matter) is also using up water at the same time. 

So, what can we do about it?  Although our advancing technology is part of the problem, it is also turning out to be part of the solution as well.  New cooling tower technology is avaialble that can reduce the energy and water consumption at the data center (and therefore less water is used at the power plant).  Tha alone won’t solve the problem of course, other steps are needed: switching to alternative energy sources that use less water, conserving energy as much as possible, buy the most energy efficient products you can when you must buy new equipment. And be sure to blog responsibly.

See the Data Center Journal article here: http://datacenterjournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2851&Itemid=43

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