Data servers that supply the power to Bitcoin miners use energy that can power small nations. There is no doubt that online gaming, online slots, cryptocurrency mining and even just scrolling through your Instagram feed requires an enormous amount of the world’s energy resources. While the world seems to be on track with knowing what it needs –– more wind farms, solar power, geothermal energy, hydrogen power –– in 2021 the demands still outweigh what reality provides.
The crypto ban in China for instance could free up more energy that Finland uses in a whole year. Quartz points out: “For years, China has been home to the largest share of bitcoin miners in the world. In August 2019, bitcoin miners in China made up three-quarters of the global hashrate, a measure of crypto-mining activity.
By March 2021, the latest month that country data is available at Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, China’s share had dropped to 46 percent as the country deepened its restrictions on crypto-related activities.
Finland is a shining green example
Finland is one of the world’s leading forces in transforming data servers into renewable energy power houses. I travelled there ten years ago and met a number of Finnish companies working to pull energy out of basements of churches, and from energy stored underground.
Pioneering a renewable energy data center is a great business model. Companies, any kind of company around the world, are looking to be carbon neutral as part of their business. It’s almost expected from partners if you are a B2B company (no one wants a liability associated with their brand) but more importantly people expect it from B2C companies. Who doesn’t want to buy shoes, lipstick or a video game console that was built by a B Corps and wooing clients with impeccable environmental records.
Clearly it pays to play “eco” and if you can’t change every angle of your supply chain in-house, environmental executives should be making sure that they pay for servers or data service providers that run their business on renewable energy.
It pays to invest in sustainable data
Carbon accounting is complicated but data services are something every single company needs. And while in the mid 2000s when everyone “eco” who wanted a green server were usually disappointed by poor servers and downtime when the sun stopped shining or the wind stopped blowing, some remarkable improvements have been made by now so that green servers can be just as reliable as ones that are powered from non-renewable sources such as oil and gas.
And if you are looking to create a startup, build a server farm that runs on volcanoes, the wind, or the sun: An Icelandic green server company Verne Global was just acquired in a deal for about $300 million by Digital 9 that operates data services in the automotive, financial services and artificial intelligence market.
“The Verne Global Icelandic facility’s environmental credentials reaffirm Digital 9 Infrastructure’s datacentre strategy and, together with the subsea network platform, steps forward our ambition to decarbonise digital infrastructure by enabling better access to datacentres in areas of surplus renewable generation,” Digital 9 said in a press release.