Green Web Foundation

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= "One day the Internet will run entirely on renewable energy. The Green Web Foundation believes that day should be within reach, and develops tools to speed up the transition towards a green Internet".



Towards a green web

"The Green Web Foundation wants to facilitate the transition towards the Internet being powered by sustainable “green” energy. Why do we need that? How much electricity is the Internet using? What is the power used for? What is the difference between green and gray hosting? Does efficient equal ‘green’ as well? Find answers to these questions below.

* How much electricity is the Internet using?

Around 5-10% of the world’s available electricity is now consumed by the combination of datacentres, networks and Internet-connected-devices (PC’s, laptops, smartphones, iPads etc) and this percentage will continue to grow in the coming decade.

* What is grey hosting?

“Grey hosting” means that the servers of the web or datacentre hosting company are running on energy which is generated using fossil fuels and/or nuclear energy. The problem with this, apart from the negative impact on the climate and world, is simply that these resources are rapidly running out. If it is not a suitable strategy for the future, why put our money into it today?

* What is green hosting?

“Green hosting” means that the servers on which the web or datacentre hosting company are running on energy which is generated from sustainable sources such as wind, solar, thermal or hydro-power.

* We use a very energy efficient data-centre, does that make us green?

Efficiency is a great step in the right direction! Many companies worldwide are trying to lower their energy bills, and that is a good step to take. But if the remaining electricity is still being generated by the burning of coal or gas, for instance, the environment will keep deteriorating. The only way forward towards the green web that makes sense in the long run, is for all Internet services to become powered by renewable energy.

* What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy that is generated by sources that do not run out in the foreseeable future: the wind will keep blowing, the sun will shine for quite a while more, and the rain will keep falling, accumulating in lakes and rivers that in turn feed the hydro-power stations.

Nuclear energy will run out (apart from its linkage to many other issues). Gas and oil are available only with limits, and burning them increases carbon levels and consumes our precious oxygen, impacting on the quality of the air we breathe and the cycles of our worldwide climate. Use of biomass also requires burning, with the same impact on air and climate, let alone on our precious forests.

* Is it possible to run the Internet entirely on renewable energy?

Yes, it is. Internet hosting companies and data centres are the new ”heavy industries” of our time. Data centres have a very stable and predictable electricity demand – they are perfect clients for use of renewable energy, and some very large data centres are already fully powered by solar power and wind power.

Currently, many data centres and other industrial clients are supplied by utility companies whose electricity comes from coal and oil generation. However, large factories are disappearing in the Western world, and the utility companies that formerly supplied them are facing lower demands and redundant capacity. When data centres and their clients start demanding renewable energy, utility companies will have to make changes in what they offer the market.

* What is a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) or Carbon Offset Certificate?

In a number of locations, the only power available is ‘green’ power (generated from hydro power, solar and/or wind power) mixed in with ‘grey’ power (generated from fossil and/or nuclear energy). We call this ‘grey-green’ power. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are a way for consumers to offset the carbon burned by the grey power, through purchase of RECs to an equivalent value of the carbon burned in the grey power, and to demonstrate a commitment to 100% renewable power becoming available. These certificates are sold by agencies that do not produce power, and may result in investment in renewable energy production.

Unfortunately, offsetting carbon produced by electricity generation through purchase of such certificates may not be an effective way to increase the generation of renewable energy. Certificates offer “grey” fossil burning power plants a way to stay in business: by simply buying carbon offset certificates equivalent to the carbon produced by their grey electricity, their carbon generation is “offset” and grey is said to be “greened”. But in the end, we need the world to be powered on actual green energy – fully renewable energy.

There is a special class of RECs called ‘gold credits‘, that has been developed by the WWF. When used wisely, such as for offsetting in situations where there are no renewable alternatives yet (such as the aviation industry), gold credits and especially credits generated by mangrove forests, can be quite a good idea in this transitional period. In the long run, however, only actual 100% renewable energy will do.

* My company is offsetting gray energy with carbon-offset certificates, can we become a partner of The Green Web Foundation?

Only 100% renewably powered companies can become a Silver, Gold or Dev Partner of The Green Web Foundation. However, there are a small number of green hosting organisations in The Green Web Foundation database who are unable to purchase green power for their local operations, and who have for the time being purchased carbon offset certificates to show their commitment to green power." (