Global consultancy firm Anthesis analysed the usage of 4,000 US servers, and by extrapolating the findings, estimated there are approximately 10 million comatose servers worldwide, using thousands of gigawatt hours of electricity.

Assuming an average cost of almost £2,000, Anthesis claims there could be nearly £20bn worth of servers going draining energy but not providing value.

Dr. Jonathan Koomey, a former professor at Yale and Stanford who specialises in the energy and environmental effects of technology, said: “In the twenty-first century, every company is an IT company, yet far too little attention is given to IT inefficiencies, and to the need for widespread changes in how IT resources are built, provisioned, and managed.”

“Removing idle servers would result in gigawatt-scale reductions in global IT load, the displaced power use from which could then support new IT loads that actually deliver business value. That’s a result that everyone should cheer.”

Anthesis recommended that companies should be constantly monitoring and updating their IT infrastructure.


Data centre emissions are growing by 13% every year, according a recent Greenpeace report, and within two years, data centres could account for around 1% of global electricity use.

Part of the reason for this rapid growth is the boom in streaming services such as Netflix and cloud-based systems like Apple’s iCloud.

However, following targeted campaigns from activists, the tech giants have taken steps to green their data centres.

Web retailer Amazon has pledged to power 100% of its data centres by renewable energy, and claims to be at 25% in 2015.

Apple meanwhile has already reached its target to be 100% renewably powered, and recently announced a $1.7bn plan to build two giant data centres in Europe, both powered by 100% renewable energy.

Google is also known for its efficiency systems which mean its enormous data centres use 50% less energy that an average data centre.

In the UK, the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has invested £5.2m in a project to deliver efficient electricity and cooling in a UK data centre in Lewisham owned by global bank Citi. It will fund the installation of a 2.8MW combined cooling and power (CCP) system as well as energy efficient cooling units and efficiency improvements to the building’s air conditioning system.

Brad Allen

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