Google uses a heap of power, says it’s green

google uses a heap of power says its green data centers

Google, in playing its role as the world’s accumulator of data, uses a whole fleet of data centers worldwide. There’s no doubt they use an enormous amount of power, but until now Google has refused to share any statistics. That’s all changed with Google Green, a new website dedicated to bringing more transparency into the company’s energy usage.

While powering Google searches, YouTube, Gchat emoticons and everything else Google offers online, those data centers draw a large part of Google’s worldwide energy use of 260 million watts. That’s continuously, day after day, although it is subject to some fluctuation based on user load. According to the New York Times, that’s about quarter of what a nuclear power plant produces, or enough electricity to power 200,000 houses.

Google argues that, despite the huge number, the company makes the world greener in the long run. It’s an interesting argument: rather than driving to the library, people can use Google search. Rather than getting lost, and wasting more gas, users map their routes on Google Maps. Also, Google’s large size allow for more efficient data center arrangements, as evidenced by government agencies whose email costs were cut in half after outsourcing data management to Google.

According to Google, the average energy consumption of one of its typical users is about 180 watt-hours a month. That’s like running an average 60-watt indoor lightbulb for just three hours. Multiply that trickle of energy by the billions of searches and downloads conducted at Google daily and you necessarily end up with a whopping number.

On top of Google’s efficiency claims, the company says it’s also getting greener. The company’s numbers state that 25 percent of its energy use came from clean power sources in 2010. That’s been bumped up to 30 percent in 2011, and Google plans to get that up to 35 percent by 2012 with a combination of direct investment in clean power production and sourcing clean power from utilities. The company’s numbers may be on the conservative side; according to GigaOm, Greenpeace earlier this year estimated Google’s clean power use at 36.4 percent.

For the other 65 percent or so of Google’s energy use that comes from fossil fuels, the company says it buys “high-quality” carbon offsets that it claims have kept it carbon neutral since 2007. Those basically translate into investments for more clean power and other green projects. In any case, Google’s finally owning up to following the green trend that’s been swirling through the tech world for years now. While its numbers are subject to verification, with a company this large, cleaner and more efficient is always a good thing.

Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.