Are servers powered by renewable energy?

If so, we should highlight that.

If not, we should fix that.

Because, y’ know climate and ecological emergency and all that.


PS just to add imho renewable does not include biofuels (I only mention this because I’ve come across plenty of companies who claim they are renewable when they are actually powered by drax one of Europe’s biggest polluters).

Our current production server through Koumbit is powered by Hydro-Quebec. Our prospective provider for on-demand servers is OVH, which has multiple facilities but the Canadian one is OVH Beauharnois which sources energy from the same hydro-electric dam.

None of our servers go as far as buying carbon offsets (these will easily 2x the cost of our services), but renewable energy source is something we take into consideration.

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Good to hear, thanks. I would suggest we advertise this fact.

You mean to offset the embodied carbon of the servers themselves? or something else? Most carbon offsetting is a bit of a con, so I’m not too concerned about that.

May I suggest that rather than something we just take into consideration, we only ever buy servers that are powered by renewables as a matter of (published) policy. I’d certainly vote for that.

Carbon offset

I don’t agree with that approach, because while being environmentally friendly is important, it needs to be balanced with other factors that are important to our mission and practical concerns. Data residency is important, and we should not say we can’t provision a server in your country because your country doesn’t have a renewable source of energy available. There are also practical concerns of how much overhead it is to procure from a lot of providers, which ultimately translates to either free labour to operational members or prohibitive cost of our service offerings.

I think it can be a goal, but we must take things one step at a time.

I know what carbon offsetting is!

It’s mostly a con akin to Catholics paying for their sins. In many ways it acts as a moral hazard that stops people actually changing their behaviour to stop emitting in the first place.

See eg

Especially the wonderful Cheat Neutral video.

There are some exceptions to this “it’s mostly a con” rule (ie companies/ people who are genuinely doing all they can to minimise their emissions across their whole supply chain and who then offset the remainder with one of the handful of fairly decent non profit offsetting operations who genuinely try to achieve additionallity) , but really not many. Lots of hosting companies who “offset” don’t even also source their energy from sustainable sources.

The question I was asking was about offsetting what exactly.

We’ll have to agree to disagree. I’d like our members to discuss and collectively decide on policy on this. I would strongly argue for only ever using green servers as nothing is more important than trying to maintain a habitable planet. To paraphrase a popular quote, there is no data privacy on a dead planet.

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re: carbon offset, it’s never something I looked into deeply but some hosts advertise it as something that they do. When I mentioned it, it’s the Wikipedia definition that I was referring to, in case it has multiple meanings. At it’s not something we discussed and is not something we are pursuing. So I guess we can’t pay for our sins :wink:

Regarding this, I agree it can be a topic of collective discussion. Perhaps someone can also help research these OVH facilities to see which subset qualifies for the renewable energy criteria so we can have a better evaluation of trade-offs?

I took on the task (in the Deck) to sort out what we will say on our website about this.

My proposal is to add the following wording to the current (and new) site asap: is dedicated to supporting the transition to a zero carbon economy. We want all our servers to be powered by renewables and are working to transition away from any services which are not. At present we use the following servers:

  • Koumbit - powered by hydro
  • OVH - powered by hydro
  • DigLife - currently unknown and under review
  • Hetzner - powered by renewables
  • WebArchitects - powered by Good Energy

We understand there are many complex issues to take into consideration when assessing environmental impacts, from the greater efficiency and reduced heat loss from newer, more efficient data centres - through to the social impacts of displacement associated with hydro power. Our aim is to operate our services with the minimum environmental impact and we will continue to review our procurement choices accordingly.

I am not quite sure what the decision making process is / who needs to sign off on things like this…?
Or what the decision making policy is on the forum in general…?
But how about - I wait for a week and for feedback / comments and if there are no objections, I go ahead?

@Graham - any update on info RE the DigLife server?


I would change OVH to OVH Beauharnois because that is their specific dc on Hydro and we chose it for that.

Maybe a link to Webarchitects’ page or their Good Energy provider page? Since it’s not a well known term.

I feel we have already discussed this text sufficiently in Org/Product that I’d feel comfortable going ahead with it.


good suggestions - thanks @benhylau :wink:
I will wait for more and if no one objects I will add your thoughts and push this live

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I think the wording is good, with the change suggested by @benhylau

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I think the wording is great.

But also, re:

When can we get access to these?!? I’d really love to start using the UK based Web Architects server.

BTW, some other renewable powered providers (in no particular order) include:

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thanks Josef - u made me realise I need to spell out what each server is being used for what (not all of them are for BBB) only the .ca server is in public use for BBB so far - and the demo runs on the DigLife server, but hopefully we’ll be able to make Hetzner available for Members to use soon


I added the text about renewables in the FAQ section of the new site: (currently locked but hopefully going live soon) - and linked to it from the home page intro … as I think this is important info