Get your carbon footprint for your datacenter

Some interesting figures are made available by the International Energy Agency. In the lead-up to the UN climate negotiations in Doha, the latest information on the level and growth of CO₂ emissions, their source and geographic distribution will be essential to lay the foundation for a global agreement. To provide input to and support for the UN process the IEA is making available the “Highlights” version of CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion.

One of the interesting tables that came available is the CO2 emissions per kWh electricity generation. It isn’t easy to find consistent and complete time series. A lot of the data that can be found is using different definitions and/or different time periods what makes it difficult to aggregate these figures. But now time series for the period 1990 – 2010 are available.

I made a selection for the EU countries and added the United States to make some comparisons. As you can see in table 1 (double click to get a better look) there is a steady decrease of CO2/kwH. On average there was a reduction of 37% in the EU. The Baltics with Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania shows a sharp increase. The same can be said for Sweden but Sweden had already a very low CO2/kwH ratio.


kgCO2/kwH figures for the EU countries and the U.S.

The table also shows a remarkable difference between EU and the United States. In the period 1990 – 2010 the U.S. succeeded to reduce the CO2/kwH with only 10% whereas the EU countries reduced the CO2/kwH in the same period with 37%.

Zooming in on the countries with Tier 1 data center markets United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany and France (with the DC hubs London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris) we see a CO2/kwH reduction of 32%, 31.6%, 24.1% and 24.8%.
The Netherlands and Germany follows more or less the trend of the average EU decrease. Whereas the trend of the UK is much bumpier. From 1999 till 2006 the CO2/kwH ratio was even increasing but although the trend is again going down it still didn’t pass the all time low in 1999. And France with its large share in nuclear generated electricity has a more or less steady trend after an initial reduction in the beginning of the nineties.

kgCO2/kwH trends

If we take a look at the United States we see that already in 1993 the average CO2/kwH of the EU countries was lower than that of the US. And 1995 was the year that the CO2/kwH of all the four countries with the European Tier-1 datacenter markets went below the CO2/kwH of the United States.


Our friends from Greenqloud were missing a country. Sorry guys no EU member yet  ;)) but  nevertheless  here are the figures of Iceland:


Iceland CO2kwH Data

See also: Power markets, Power prices and Data Centres in Europe

2 thoughts on “Get your carbon footprint for your datacenter

    • Nice idea this live cloud carbon ranking but frankly I think you should explain how these figures have been calculated.
      Without further explanation the statement “Our data and analysis are based on assumptions and represent opinions not facts” gives space to much debate.

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