The enormous energy consumption of the Internet is primarily attributable to the servers and data centers on which digital content is hosted. There are over 50,000 data centers in Germany alone. The entire computing technology and the required infrastructure (this includes the power supply and cooling of the servers) required around 16 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2021 - that's 3% of annual consumption in Germany.
Fortunately, there are more and more providers who are improving their environmental footprint by running their data centers on green power.
REAL green electricity
Genuine green electricity comes 100% from renewable energy sources, for example wind and hydro power and solar energy. Pure green electricity is generated in a climate-neutral way, which means that no carbon emissions are produced.
In contrast, there are also electricity suppliers who label their coal or nuclear power as ecologically valuable by purchasing RECS certificates. The Renewable Energy Certificate System issues certificates to producers of renewable energy. However, these certificates of origin can be resold by suppliers to other electricity producers. This means that coal- and nuclear-based electricity is then considered green electricity by certificate - at least on paper.
Since the term green electricity is not legally protected and providers with at least 50% green electricity are already allowed to advertise with the term, it makes sense to look closely at the electricity mix used.
Hosting providers can be similarly differentiated: While some compensate for the use of unsustainable energy through regular payments and other compensation services, more and more hosters are switching to operation using renewable energy sources. Two terms have become established to categorize these hosters: 'gray hosters' and 'green hosters'.
Other hallmarks of a sustainable 'green' hoster are efficient and sustainable cooling of the servers and the use of server waste heat. Studies have shown that approximately 27% of a data center's total energy requirements must be used for cooling and air conditioning. Modern new data centers already rely on appropriate architecture to use water cooling or cooling with the help of outside air.
You not only improve your own website by switching
Switching to a green hoster can significantly help make your own website more climate-friendly.
But not just your website. Because by giving your gray hoster negative feedback with your switch, you encourage them to switch to sustainable energy.
With your help, the Internet will gradually become green.
Talk to your hoster and ask if such a change is planned with him. If not, you should consider switching. Green hosting is not more expensive than gray hosting.
Read also the article Reduce instead of just compensate.