Data Center Energy Consumption

by Briton Lee

Data centers in the United States are using an increasing amount of energy, needing 34 full power plants (capable of producing 500 megawatts of energy each) to power them all (Thibodeau 2014). In 2013, data centers used a total of 91 billion kilowatt-hours, and they are projected to hit 139 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020, a 53% increase (ibid). These data centers alone are contributing to an emission of 97 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, and account for over 2% of the energy used nationwide (Hamilton 2013, Fehrenbacher 2014). Continue reading

How Many More Dams in the Amazon?

by Emil Morhardt

There are a great many hydroelectric dams already operating in Brazil, supplying 80% of Brazil’s electricity—most of them in the Amazon Basin. There could be many more. The existing dams produce 80 million kilowatts annually, and the proposed dams in the Amazon Basin could double that. A just-released study maps these dams, and its Brazilian authors both warn of the damage their construction and operation could do societally and environmentally, and optimistically hope for “ An integrated ecological and environmental management with a holistic and systemic approach considering the entire spectrum of solutions, such as technology, socio-environmental conditions, and economy…” to avoid that damage. For sure, this ought to be a goal, and they note that just such studies are taking place on the Tocantins River where a 200 km stretch is proposed to remain free of dams. They note other mitigations taking place in other hydroelectric systems under development, including feasibility studies in the Tapajós River which suggest keeping Continue reading