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Greenpeace: HK datacenters lack the renewable energy option

Datacenters in Hong Kong can never become greener as the local government is lukewarm to the use of renewable energy, said Greenpeace during an interview with Computerworld Hong Kong on Monday.

"With an 18% growth in local datacenter floor space from 2010 to 2011, the government has no metrics for assessing the environmental impact of energy used to power datacenters," said Yau Yeung, Greenpeace's Clean Our Cloud campaigner in Hong Kong. "The problem will get worse because datacenters and cloud providers have no choice but to use 'dirty' energy produced by coal, gas, and nuclear power in Hong Kong.

The current local grid mix is 54% by coal, 23% by nuclear energy, and 23% by natural gas, according to a recent Greenpeace report "How Clean is your Cloud", adding that electricity generation accounts for 67% of local greenhouse gas emissions.

The local government proposes to only increase the use of renewable energy -- currently less than 1% -- to 1-2% by 2020, Yeung observed. "That means tech firms like Google -- which receives high marks for being more transparent about its energy use and committing to use renewable energy in our latest report -- won't be able to do the same in its Hong Kong datacenter slated to go live in 2013," said Yeung. "

While the peak load of Hong Kong has become static in recent years, the expansion of data centers might be the only reason for increased capacity, Greenpeace said. "The local IT sector can have a strong, positive influence by setting a renewable energy-friendly siting policy and buying wind power.

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