Google: Cloud Services like Gmail Are 80 Times More Efficient Than Localized Email Services

Previously, Climate Progress outlined four good reasons why cloud computing is better for the climate:

  1. Economies of scale
  2. Diversity and aggregation
  3. Flexibility
  4. Outsourcing

And new data from Google underscores those points: In a blog post yesterday, Google reports that using a service like Gmail is 80 times more efficient than enterprise services.

The analysis from Google shows that the real energy guzzlers (and therefore carbon emitters) are small businesses that can’t capture economies of scale. According to Google, small businesses with around 50 employees typically have to buy servers that are much more power intensive than what they need:

But it’s not just small businesses that have an impact. According to an August report on cloud computing from the Carbon Disclosure Project, large companies that plug into the cloud would have a massive impact on carbon emission reductions. The report found that American companies with revenues over $1 billion could cut CO2 by more than 85 million metric tons by 2020 annually by switching 69% of infrastructure to cloud services. That would equal $12.3 billion in economy-wide savings.


And what about all those YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets and skateboarders breaking bones you’re streaming? How energy intensive are those?

According to Google, not very. The servers required to run a minute of a YouTube video use about 0.0002 kWh of electricity. You’d have to watch those videos non-stop for three days before you’d consume the amount of energy required to produce, package and ship a DVD.

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