Servers that gobble electricity

Many billions of us now depend on internet servers to carry out the most vital to the most trivial day to day human involvement.

Like the air we breathe, we expect it to be there. But there are many threats to its future.

Climate change events such as Californian wildfires, plus dependence on massive energy consumption have not been designed into present systems resilience planning.

https://www.science.org/content/article/climate-change-threatens-supercomputers?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyLatestNews&utm_content=alert&et_rid=330717162&et_cid=4443437&

Backup power can only be generators, and we run them on diesel. Fuel is finite, particularly oil based. So servers backed up by generators when there is an oil supply shortage is maybe not going to be the whole answer. Would you give priority to supplying diesel to servers over hospital generators?

https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/24/aws_irish_datacenter_diesel/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=article

And then there is the huge drain on energy by the global system banking industry with the additional drain from servers for cryptocurrency.

….”research by ARK Investment Management found the Bitcoin ecosystem consumes less than 10% of the energy required for the traditional banking system. While it’s true the banking system serves far more people, cryptocurrency is still maturing and, like any industry, the early infrastructure stage is particularly intensive.”

Computer systems require air conditioning to keep their locations cool. In Saudi Arabia it can take over 700,000 barrels of oil a day to run the nation’s total power plants.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/saudis-stuck-home-for-summer-burn-oil-to-power-air-conditioners

According to this company:

https://www.ecocooling.co.uk/applications/data-centre-evaporative-cooling

“The use of electricity in the IT sector has both financial and environmental significance. Many data centres consume as much electricity in their cooling systems as in their servers. This has both cost and power availability implications. It is believed the IT sector has a bigger carbon footprint than air travel and consumes over 5% of the developed world’s electricity. Many operators want to reduce their impact on the environment by consuming less energy.”

Leading on from my previous blog about ultrafine particulates found in the air we breathe, this company avoid that harm…..They say:

“When fresh air is used in a data centre there can be a risk of either particulate or gaseous contamination.  The quality of the air in the locality of the data centre can affect the feasibility of the use of fresh air. It is now normal to fit filtration to a minimum of EU4/G4 standards. EcoCooling would usually advise dual filtration for IT installations.  Air intake filtration (pre-filter jackets) is designed to eliminate potential contamination from external air. In addition cartridge filters can be used in either ducting or as replacement ceiling tiles to filter the recirculated air.”

As far as I am aware all filters are manufactured using petroleum based materials and are thus not biodegradable. They will be tossed into landfill after use and therefore become a plastic contaminant of groundwater.

Looking back on a 2017 blog about Twitter building infrastructure to support the platform:

https://blog.twitter.com/engineering/en_us/topics/infrastructure/2017/the-infrastructure-behind-twitter-scale

To save money, Elon Musk has said he was cancelling the Twitter use of servers in the Netherlands.

https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-deep-cuts-plan-seeks-server-cost-cuts-report-2022-11?op=1

The Netherlands server facilities are extensive:

https://host9x.com/netherlands-dedicated-servers.html

The Netherlands currently relies on these sources of energy:

https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/netherlands-energy

Distributing heat generated by data centres to local homes is a new and ‘about time too’ initiative:

https://www.theregister.com/2022/12/21/datacenter_district_heating/

Let us not forget the recent development of crypto currencies which depend on rows of computers working flat out 24/7:

Crypto miners are becoming a hazard to local communities:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-crypto-mine-is-making-life-a-daily-hell-for-a-small-town-in-north-carolina

We must not allow harm to the environment when building facilities which involve crypto mining. The cost-benefit analysis must put quality of the environment first, as should all new industrial sites.

About borderslynn

Retired, living in the Scottish Borders after living most of my life in cities in England. I can now indulge my interest in all aspects of living close to nature in a wild landscape. I live on what was once the Iapetus Ocean which took millions of years to travel from the Southern Hemisphere to here in the Northern Hemisphere. That set me thinking and questioning and seeking answers. In 1998 I co-wrote Millennium Countdown (US)/ A Business Guide to the Year 2000 (UK) see https://www.abebooks.co.uk/products/isbn/9780749427917
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