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Advances, Systems and Applications

Table 11 Availability assessment of primary data item - emission factors - electricity - required under the GHG Protocol for assessment of ICT emissions

From: Assessing the suitability of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for calculation of emissions from public cloud computing workloads

GHG Protocol Description Data available to Cloud Vendor customers?
“the emission factor for the electricity used should be appropriate for the region where the electricity is consumed. Electricity grid emission factors are published nationally, and in some cases, regionally. Electricity grid emission factors should include the full life cycle of the energy source (i.e., include emissions from extraction and transportation of the fuel, as well as generation and transmission of electricity)” Partial – since actual electricity usage data is not provided by the Cloud Vendor, a regional average GHG emissions factor must be used [27]. Following the GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidelines [26] would allow the factor to be determined.
Each Cloud Vendor has a different electricity generation mix for each data center. For example, AWS reports that as of June 2015 the AWS “average power mix carbon intensity is 393 g/kWh” [12]. In 2015 Google reports a data center carbon intensity of 0.242 tCO2e/MWh which has reduced to 0.0495 tCO2e/MWh in 2018 [28]. Further, Google reports it has purchased 100% renewable energy to match its usage since 2017 [37].
However, a customer cannot complete the calculation unless the GHG emissions factor can be linked to activity.