Moving computing workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud can improve energy efficiency for companies in the Asia Pacific Region (APAC) and reduce their carbon footprint by more than 78%, according to a new study of companies and public sector organizations by 451 Research commissioned by Amazon.
The report surveyed 515 organizations with annual revenues between U.S. $10 million and U.S. $1 billion across Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and India.
451 Research found that on-premises data centers across APAC typically have a server utilization rate of just under 15%, whereas cloud-based data centers using servers powered by the latest processors and with utilization of 50% or more achieve peak efficiency. Given this difference in utilization, cloud servers are able to achieve energy savings of more than 67% compared to typical on-premises servers, according to the report.
Cloud providers save energy through their practice of using the most up-to-date servers more efficiently. For example, AWS’s custom-built Graviton2 processors—offered exclusively to AWS customers—provide better performance per watt than any other Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) processor. Amazon EC2 is a web service designed to make cloud computing easier for developers by offering a choice of Intel, AMD, and Arm-based processors.
The research also found that when compared to on-premises data centers, cloud-based data centers offer an additional potential energy savings of more than 11% due to their highly energy-efficient power and cooling systems.
AWS is constantly innovating the design and application of cooling systems to reduce water use. We utilize real-time sensor data to adapt to changing weather conditions, and where we can, we use reclaimed or recycled water instead of potable drinking water. We also work with local utilities to expand the use of reclaimed water, and we look for opportunities to return water to the community. AWS’s water use strategy evaluates climate patterns for each AWS region, local water management and availability, and the opportunity to conserve drinking water sources.
Customers migrate workloads from on-premises data centers to AWS to tap into our global infrastructure and broadest selection of services to increase agility, drive innovation, and achieve cost savings, among other reasons. Moving to AWS is also much more sustainable than on-premises infrastructure because AWS has always focused on energy efficiency and continuous innovation in its data centers. We closely track our resource usage to optimize utilization, reduce energy, and increase operational excellence. Our scale allows us to achieve much higher resource utilization and energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data center, especially because the AWS Global Infrastructure is built on Amazon’s own custom hardware—purpose-built and optimized for workloads run by AWS customers.
“What really sets the cloud gains apart in APAC markets are the reductions in associated greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kelly Morgan, research director for Datacenter Infrastructure & Services at 451 Research, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. “While grid emissions differ greatly from country to country, the APAC average carbon emissions per kilowatt hour is well above that of the U.S.i Consequently, shifting enterprise workloads to cloud infrastructure and reducing the energy footprint per workload yields even greater reduction in carbon emissions in APAC than in the U.S.”

Unlocking more renewable energy for the region

Amazon is on a path to powering all our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of our original target. As the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, Amazon has enabled 232 wind and solar projects worldwide.
451 Research estimates that emissions savings for organizations moving from on-premises data centers to cloud could increase to 93% if cloud data centers in APAC were powered by 100% renewable energy. This finding was especially important for APAC, as the study reported that the lack of accessible and affordable corporate renewable energy options in the region left a significant amount of carbon reduction potential on the table.
Amazon has invested in five renewable energy projects in APAC. These include three wind and solar projects in Australia, one solar project in China, and a solar project in Singapore consisting of multiple moveable ground-mounted solar panels. Collectively, these projects will supply more than 900,000 megawatt-hours of additional renewable energy to local electricity grids. That’s the equivalent of the average electricity consumption of about 160,000 homes in Singapore.ii
Amazon continues to partner with other companies, utilities, policy makers, and regulators to accelerate plans and policies that increase clean energy on the grids that serve our customers and the communities we operate in. One way we are doing this in communities around the world is through Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs). With CPPAs, the cost of building a renewable energy source, such as a solar or wind farm, is covered by the corporate purchaser. We also support government priorities on climate change such as the European Green Deal’s “Fit for 55” legislative package and are dedicated to building a sustainable business for our customers and planet by making long-term investments. This includes our global purchase of 100,000 fully electric delivery vehicles, the largest order ever for electric delivery vehicles, and investing $2 billion in companies whose solutions will facilitate a transition to a low carbon economy, such as India-based Ion Energy, a startup developing software to improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
Climate change is one of the most critical challenges we face. At Amazon, we are committed to building a sustainable business for customers and the planet, which is why we co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, a commitment to reaching net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Over 100 companies have now joined us in the pledge. By investing in renewable power and ensuring our facilities and operations are energy efficient, we can provide our customers with the computing power they need to solve innovative challenges while reducing their overall impact on the environment and meeting their own sustainability ambitions.
To learn more, read the full report.
i The APJ average of 576.5g CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour is already well above that of the U.S. (417.3g in 2019)
ii Based on Energy market Authority of Singapore data on average electricity consumption per household in 2020 (5,671.2 kwh per year)