Emission offsets mean carbon footprint of an user on Google is zero, claims search engine company
Google has said that its electricity consumption in 2010 was 2,259,998 MWh, but claims that by purchasing and generating renewable energy, as well as buying "high-quality carbon offsets", the search engine company has brought its carbon impact to zero.
The company said that it generated a total of 1.46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year as it published its energy usage for the first time.
However, the company said in a blog that without efficiency measures in its data centres the footprint would have been about twice as big. The numbers published in the blog represent Google’s carbon footprint for 2010 before the company offset its emissions, said Google.
Google Technical Infrastructure senior vice-president Urs Hoelzle wrote in the official blog: "As a result of our efforts, the energy used per Google search is very small."
The company said that doing 100 searches compares to using a laptop, turning on a light, or drinking orange juice.
Google said, "Specifically, we currently use about 0.0003 kWh of energy to answer the average search query. This translates into roughly 0.2g of carbon dioxide."
The company added that streaming 1 minute of YouTube requires 0.0002 kWh, and generates approximately 0.1 g carbon dioxide, while Google uses 2.2 kWh per Gmail user every year, and generates 1.2 kg of carbon dioxide.
According to the Guardian, Google’s carbon footprint is on a par with the UN.
The New York Times noted that every time a person runs a Google search, watches a YouTube video or sends a message through Gmail, the company’s data centres draw almost 260 million watts.
However, Google says that people actually use less energy by using Google products.
Hoelzle wrote in the blog, "We’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of energy our services use. In fact, to provide you with Google products for a month — not just search, but Google+, Gmail, YouTube and everything else we have to offer — our servers use less energy per user than a light left on for three hours. And, because we’ve been a carbon-neutral company since 2007, even that small amount of energy is offset completely, so the carbon footprint of your life on Google is zero."
The company also announced that it would be opening its newest data centre facility in Hamina, Finland, which uses seawater cooling system that requires very little electricity.
Google added that by investing "hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy projects and companies, we’re helping to create 1.7 GW of renewable power. That’s the same amount of energy used to power over 350,000 homes, and far more than what our operations consume."
In August, a research by Analytics Press revealed that the total electricity use by data centres in 2010 was about 1.3% of all electricity use for the world, and 2% of all electricity use for the US, found the study.
The research also found that while Google is a high profile user of computer servers, less than 1% of electricity used by data centres worldwide was attributable to that company’s data centre operations.