What was once Google’s best-kept secrets has now been released to the public. The search engine released the energy consumption of their facilities, saying their data centers drew nearly 260 million watts to run Google searches, YouTube videos, Gmail messaging and advertising displayed on websites.
While this may seem like an astronomically large number, Google balances the information by pointing out the considerable amounts of energy have been conserved as a result of Google’s data centers. When a simple Google search will work in place of a drive to the library to dig through Encyclopedias and other books, less fuel is used and released into the air.
According to Google, consumers conduct over a billion searches a day, calculating the average energy consumption for the average user is small, coming in around 180 watt-hours a month, the same amount of energy used when running a 60-watt light bulb for three hours. Aside from the small per-person output, the number also includes all worldwide Google operations, including office parks and campuses.
According to utility companies, it’s estimated that 260 million watts could power about 100,000 to 200,000 homes, basically the size of a small city.
If the overall number isn’t so bad, why was Google keeping a secret worthy of government involvement? Some experts believe they were doing it to stay silent on how quickly they were outdoing the competition in the scale of their data centers.
Now that the numbers are out there, do you think the figure pales in comparison to the amount of energy we’d consume if we had to find information in non-digital ways, or is that comparing apples with pears in this digital age?