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How carbon-free is your cloud? New Google data lets you know

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Google first achieved carbon neutrality in 2007, and since 2017 has purchased enough solar and wind energy to match 100% of our global electricity consumption. Now Google is building on that progress to target a new sustainability goal: running its business on carbon-free energy 24/7, everywhere, by 2030. Today, the tech giant is sharing data about how it is performing against that objective, so that customers can ultimately select Google Cloud regions based on the carbon-free energy supplying them. 

Completely decarbonising Google’s data centre electricity supply is the critical next step in realising a carbon-free future and supporting Google Cloud customers with the cleanest cloud in the industry.

On the way to achieving this goal, each Google Cloud region will be supplied by a mix of more and more carbon-free energy and less and less fossil-based energy.

Google measures its progress along this path with its Carbon Free Energy Percentage (CFE%). Now, Google is sharing the average hourly CFE% for the majority of its Google Cloud regions here and on GitHub

Customers like Salesforce are already integrating environmental impact into its IT strategy as it works to decarbonise the services it provides to its customers. Patrick Flynn, VP of sustainability at Salesforce, is committed to harnessing their culture of innovation to tackle climate change.  

 He commented, “At Salesforce we believe we must harness the power of innovation and technology across the customer relationship to address the challenge of climate change and sustainability at Salesforce.

“With Google’s new Carbon Free Energy Percentage, Salesforce can prioritise locations that maximise carbon free energy, reducing our footprint as we continue to deliver all our customers a carbon neutral cloud every day.”

Google is sharing this data so you – like Salesforce – can incorporate carbon emissions into decisions on where to locate your services across our infrastructure.

Just like the potential differences in a region’s price or latency, there are differences in the carbon emissions associated with the production of electricity that is sourced in each Google Cloud region. 

The CFE% will tell you on average, how often that region was supplied with carbon-free energy on an hourly basis. Maximising the amount of carbon-free energy that supplies your application or workload will help reduce the gross carbon emissions from running on it.

Of course, all regions are matched with 100% carbon-free energy on an annual basis, so the CFE% tells you how well matched the carbon-free energy supply is with Google’s demand. A lower-scoring region has more hours in the year without a matching, local amount of carbon-free energy. 

As Google works on increasing the CFE% for each of its Google Cloud regions, you can take advantage of locations with a higher percentage of carbon-free energy.

You must also consider your data residency, performance and redundancy requirements, but here are some good ways to reduce the associated gross carbon emissions of your workload:  

Pick a lower-carbon region for your new applications: Cloud applications have a tendency to stay put once built, so build and run your new applications in the region with the highest CFE% available to you.

Run batch jobs in a lower carbon region: Batch workloads are often planned ahead, so picking the region with the highest CFE% will increase the carbon-free energy supplying the job. 

Set an organisational policy for lower carbon regions: You can restrict the location of your cloud resources to a particular region or subset of regions using organisational policies.

For example, if you want to use only US-based regions, restricting your workloads to run Iowa and Oregon, currently the leading CFE% leaders, rather than Las Vegas and S. Carolina would mean your app would be supplied by carbon-free energy an average of 68% more often.   

And remember, the cleanest energy is the energy you didn’t use in the first place.

Increasing the efficiency of your cloud applications will translate into using less energy, and often less carbon emissions. Try serverless products that automatically scale with your workload and take advantage of rightsizing recommendations for your compute instances. 

24/7 carbon-free energy is the goal Google is chasing for all its Google Cloud regions around the globe.

Along the way, it is working on new ways to help you make lower-carbon decisions and lower your Google Cloud Platform carbon footprint.

Twitter response

Facade Tech, an Australian based company specialising in efficient and carbon-free multi-cloud data management had this to say:

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