These Data Center Providers Use Most Renewable Energy

Digital Realty and Equinix lead the pack of data center providers but still use much less renewable energy than some hardware and cloud giants.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

October 25, 2016

2 Min Read
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Digital Realty Trust uses more renewable energy than any other data center provider, followed by Equinix, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Companies that use providers like Digital and Equinix are increasingly interested in data center services powered by renewable energy, partly because of their own corporate sustainability programs and partly because energy generated by sources like wind and solar has gotten a lot cheaper in recent years. In response, the providers have been sourcing more renewables to address the demand.

A recent survey of consumers of retail colocation and wholesale data center services by Data Center Knowledge, found that 70 percent of these users consider sustainability issues when selecting data center providers.

Equinix has been on EPA's list since October of last year. However, this is the first time Digital has been included, following its announcement in July of a wind power purchase agreement to offset energy consumption of its entire retail colocation business in the US.

Read more: How Renewable Energy is Changing the Data Center Market

Digital Realty was the sixth-largest user of renewable energy on the latest edition of EPA’s quarterly list of users in the tech and telecom sector. The list pegged Digital’s total annual use of renewables at 400 million kWh, which is 16 percent of the company’s total energy consumption for the report period.

The report uses annualized contracted energy purchase figures rather energy use per calendar year.

Equinix was seventh on the list, having contracted for about 306 million kWh – 25 percent of its total energy use – consisting of wind and on-site generation fueled by biogas. The company has deployed Bloom Energy fuel cells in at least one of its locations in Silicon Valley for on-site generation.

Rackspace is ninth on the list after having used about 114 million kWh of wind energy, or 36 percent of its total consumption.

See also: Here’s How Much Energy All US Data Centers Consume

Other data center providers on the list are Green House Data, which used 16 million kWh, and vXchnge, which used 14 million kWh. Iron Mountain is also on the list, although data center services are a relatively small portion of its business.

The amount of renewable energy data center providers consume pale in comparison to some of the big tech names at the top of the list. Renewable energy usage by Intel, the leader, is about 3.42 billion kWh; followed by Microsoft, with 2.7 billion kWh; Cisco, with slightly over 1 billion kWh; and Google, whose renewable energy use is close to Cisco’s. Apple is fifth on the list, with annual renewable energy use of 830 million kWh.

You can see the EPA’s full Green Power Partnership Top 30 Tech and Telecom list here.

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