Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud-computing provider, is promising by 2030 to replenish the water its massive data centers consume, the latest environmental pledge from the internet giant.
Parent company Amazon.com Inc. said in a statement Monday it’s supporting efforts to replenish groundwater in California, the UK and India to offset the water the company’s cloud centers use. Google, which has vowed to offset 120% of its water usage, revealed last week that its global data centers consume 4.3 billion gallons of water a year. Microsoft Corp. has already committed to replenish more water than it consumes by the end of the decade.
Data centers use a considerable amount of electricity and water to cool the racks of servers and computers. While Amazon and its rivals have disclosed more of their energy footprints, they have been less willing to share how much water they use. That’s caused political tension in areas facing droughts.
AWS declined to share the total gallons it consumers, but reported that in 2021 it used a quarter liter of water for every kilowatt-hour of electricity at its data centers. That metric is the best reflection of water efficiency, said Will Hewes, global water lead for AWS.
Right now, AWS said it relies on recycled water for 20 of its data centers, including two in drought-stricken California, but it’s challenging to expand that number because re-using water is often tricky in regions where utilities aren’t set up for the practice. “Water is complicated,” Hewes said.
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