Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Renewable energy-powered website hosting

This is me with my webdesigner hat on.

For some time I’ve been looking for companies offering renewable energy-powered website hosting for both my own sites and to offer my clients as an option for their hosting, but was never particularly inspired by what I found. Recently I’ve discovered 2 UK-based hosting companies offering hosting powered 100% by renewable energy, Ecological Hosting and Solar Host, and I’m planning to switch my own sites over to one of them when they come up for renewal.

These companies are a bit special because they’re the only UK hosts I’ve found whose sites are genuinely powered 100% by renewable energy. Several hosting companies, particularly in the US, are making a big deal of providing hosting powered 100% (or even 300%!) by renewable energy, but when you read the small print, you find that they use grid-powered data centres just like everyone else and the only difference between them and other hosting companies is that they’ve purchased “green energy tags”, “certified renewable energy credits”, “renewable energy certificate system (RECS)” or “carbon offsetting” to cover their calculated power usage. While this is undoubtedly better than nothing, and many of the companies seem genuinely concerned about the environment, this is “green” hosting by accounting convention only and is not really what it claims to be. It’s not hosting powered directly and exclusively by real world onsite renewable energy.

Ecological Hosting and Solar Host are different. They both host all their sites at a 100% solar-powered Californian data centre which is the only commercially available facility of it’s kind in the world at the moment. This data centre, created and run by Phil Nail of AISO, has an energy-efficient design and construction, uses servers controlled by chips that consume 60% less energy and generate 50% less heat than the most popular brands, source their water through rainwater harvesting, run refrigerant-free natural air conditioning to cool the servers and offices, use solar tubes for all their daytime lighting and are currently installing a turf roof. They don’t just use renewable energy, but work on being incredibly efficient in their use of power. Their Power Usage Effectiveness rating is 1.14 (1.00 would indicate 100% efficiency, ie. all their power is effectively used by the IT equipment). Most US data centres operate with a PUE between 2.0 and 3.0.

Ecological Hosting and Solar Host both rent dedicated servers from AISO which allow them to configure and offer their own hosting plans. There are also a number of UK resellers of AISO’s hosting plans, including Lightbeing Creations, Eco Web Design, Green Web Hosting, and Solar Web Host.

To me, this facility and the companies using it as their data centre are well worth supporting and encouraging as the internet continues to expand and demand more and more power to run. What amazes me is why there aren’t more facilities like it in places like southern Europe. Surely it’s got to be a far better investment prospect for the likes of the Portuguese and Spanish governments to encourage than yet another eco-disaster of a golf course?

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2 Comments

  1. sophie May 10, 2009

    unfortunately neither of these companies (also the only two we could find that actually use their own renewable energy, and don’t just buy credits) don’t offer anything near the space that we need for the pureportugal site :(

  2. Quinta do Vale May 11, 2009

    Wow! How much space does PP need? Solar Host do a 2GB package. That’s pretty massive. Both Ecological Hosting and Solar Host have very approachable owners. I’ve contacted both of them and they’ve both said that they’re pretty flexible so maybe it would be worth talking to them to see if they can come up with something that suits?

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