Today, consumers expect their devices to work at lightning speed. And as a result, companies are racing to ensure that their websites, apps, and software performs as fast as possible.

The days when consumers would patiently wait minutes for a web page to load have disappeared along with dial-up internet. In fact, fully 40% of browsers will ditch a website that takes just three seconds to load. On top of that, digital marketing experts say that slow speeds lead to 7% fewer conversions.

To meet the needs of an increasingly impatient internet, data centers are being constructed all over the world. Google recently announced plans to spend $1.1 billion building new data centers in the Netherlands.

According to Energy.gov, there are now 3 million data centers in the United States, with the majority housed in small- and medium-sized businesses. Many such data centers exist here in Colorado.

While that's good news for the state's growing tech industry, environmentalists are increasingly concerned that Colorado data centers will make it impossible for the state to reach its energy efficiency goals, which are ambitious.

The Energy News Network recently reported on the controversy surrounding a planned data center in Pueblo. The $100 million cryptocurrency data farm could directly benefit the Pueblo economy, where poverty rates are high.

Black Hills Energy, a utility company, will reportedly supply 50 megawatts of power to the data center.

“Fifty more megawatts of this largely coal-fired power will essentially wipe out the gains in renewable generation they boast from their new Busch Ranch II wind farm,” David Cockrell, a member of Pueblo’s Energy Future, told Energy News Network.

Data centers consume monstrous amounts of energy. The power density of a commercial data center is 100 times greater than a typical office building. That's because huge amounts of energy are needed to cool electronic equipment. While 80% of data centers are looking to install hot or cold aisle containment systems that can reduce energy use and maintain safe temperatures, it still takes a lot of energy to run a modern data center. Black Hills Energy is required by law to get 30% of its power from renewable sources by 2020, but activists like Cockrell are still concerned.

As Colorado seeks to switch to renewable energy, the growing number of data centers in the state may provide the first major test of its renewable energy goals.

Companies like Google are grappling with the same problem. Until renewable energy sources are more widely available, technology companies will have to rely on whatever power source is at hand.
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