Businesses in Europe can reduce energy use by nearly 80% when they run their applications on the AWS Cloud instead of operating their own data centers, according to a new report by 451 Research, a global research firm. The report, commissioned by AWS, also found that migrating compute workloads to AWS across Europe could decrease greenhouse gas emissions equal to the footprint of millions of households. In addition, businesses could potentially reduce carbon emissions of an average workload by up to 96% when AWS reaches its goal of purchasing 100% of its energy from renewable sources.

451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, surveyed senior stakeholders at over 300 companies across a broad range of industries in France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and Sweden operating their own data centers. Results show that companies in Europe can reduce their energy use by almost 80% by moving their compute workloads out of on-premises data centers to AWS. Companies could potentially further reduce carbon emissions from an average workload—by up to 96%—once AWS meets its goal to be powered by 100% renewable energy, a target the company is on a path to achieve by 2025. The study also found that compared to the computing resources of the average European company, cloud servers are roughly three times more energy efficient, and AWS data centers are up to five times more energy efficient. In fact, moving a megawatt (MW) of a typical compute workload from a European organization’s data center to AWS Cloud could reduce carbon emissions by up to 1,079 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“We were struck by how much opportunity there is for European businesses to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions by looking at their IT infrastructure. If you think of the electricity consumed and emissions produced by tens of thousands of companies across Europe operating their own data centers, this is an area that appears to be overlooked,” said Kelly Morgan, Research Director, Datacenter Infrastructure & Services at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. “According to our analysis, moving workloads to the AWS Cloud could dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of most organizations’ IT operations.”

According to the report, cloud data centers are efficient because cloud providers focus on sustainability across their entire operation. In contrast, most businesses don’t prioritize their data center infrastructure sustainability, which means their data centers are not optimized for efficiency. Most businesses don’t prioritize addressing data center energy costs and carbon emissions because digital infrastructure is not their core business. Cloud providers focus on efficiency as a best practice. They operate servers at much higher utilization rates and design facilities to use less energy and water.

“This report shows the great potential that cloud offers businesses in Europe to improve energy efficiency while cutting costs and carbon emissions at the same time.”
Chris Wellise, Director of Sustainability at AWS

The report highlights specific AWS practices that increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Overall, the AWS Cloud infrastructure is up to five times more energy efficient than typical EU enterprise infrastructure. AWS achieves lower energy use in its data centers through innovation, such as designing cooling systems that reduce energy and water use, and using real-time sensor data to adapt to changing weather conditions. AWS’s scale enables high resource usage, and its global cloud infrastructure is built using Amazon’s own custom hardware, purpose-built and optimized for workloads run by AWS customers. This includes power-efficient processors like Graviton 2, the ARM-based AWS-designed chip that provides better performance per watt than any other EC2 processor.

“This report shows the great potential that cloud offers businesses in Europe to improve energy efficiency while cutting costs and carbon emissions at the same time,” said Chris Wellise, Director of Sustainability at AWS. “AWS is proud to collaborate with businesses and governments to help meet their sustainability goals. We believe we have responsibilities to the communities where we operate, and to us, that means sustainability and environmental stewardship. AWS is continuously working on ways to increase the energy efficiency of facilities and equipment, as well as innovating the design and manufacture of servers, storage, and networking equipment to reduce resource use and limit waste.”

Renewable energy further reduces carbon emissions

The reduction in carbon emissions for an average business workload could be even larger if cloud operators use renewable energy sources, according to the report. 451 Research found that if a 1-megawatt corporate data center (about 1,000 square meters, at an assumed 30% electrical utilization rate) switches their applications to the cloud, they could reduce emissions by about 1,079 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is equivalent to removing over 500 cars from the roads or offsetting the annual electricity emissions of over 50 average households across Europe. That number rises to as much as 1,293 metric tons of carbon dioxide when a cloud provider is powered by 100% renewable energy. AWS is on path to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2025.

As the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, Amazon enables new renewable energy on the electric grid in Europe to help power its business operations. Currently, Amazon has more than 234 solar and wind energy projects throughout the world, including projects in Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Together, these projects will provide over 10,000 MW of global renewable energy capacity when complete.

AWS is committed to building a sustainable business for customers and the planet, and proudly supports customers in achieving their own sustainability targets. We invite organizations to join The Climate Pledge, a commitment to becoming net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Co-founded by Amazon, more than 200 organizations have signed The Climate Pledge to date, committing to use their scale to decarbonize the economy through real business change and innovation.

To learn more about how the AWS Cloud can help European businesses increase energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions, see the full report.