Hosting solutions use a lot of power. That much is clear. What are the implications of this fact for environmental issues? Could "green hosting" play a role in the future? Depending on the source of the electricity, Internet hosts could contribute either net-negative or net-positive impacts on the environment. Either way, cutting electricity usage would make Internet hosting more efficient and less costly. Server hosts often shell out thousands of dollars per month for electricity alone.
Green hosting provides an answer to the issue of environmentally-friendly electricity generation. Data centers, which usually consist of hundreds if not thousands of servers, are switching to green energy, including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal, where available. Google, in particular, has led the way in "greening" its data centers to not only lower energy consumption but more efficiently use the energy they do consume. This can only have a net-positive impact on the environment.
Using less energy means less reliance on fossil fuel power generation. Energy efficiency means wasting less of the energy that is used, which also contributes to lowering energy consumption. Fossil fuel power generation, like coal-fired power plants, have a number of negative aspects. Air pollution was a huge problem until the advent of modern air-scrubbing technologies. Today, pollution is not as big of a problem as in the past, but it still exists.
Pollution has largely been subsumed by the larger issue of global warming. The carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants contributes to climate change in a big way. Lowering or eliminating the dependence of the Internet on coal-fired power plants helps the environment by improving air quality and lessening the impact of climate change.
Lowering energy consumption to the point where green energy sources become practical is the solution to eliminating the environmental impact of the Internet. Green hosting is the key part of that solution. Global warming and pollution will no longer be an issue once it becomes popular.
Guest Post: Mac Connolly has worked in the technology industry for the past 25 years, working for various well-known brands. He is currently working with Melbourne Server Hosting as a freelance writer sharing his experience of technology and the advances within green hosting and data centres.