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Alibaba joins rivals in offering tool for those under pressure to reduce carbon emissions

Microsoft, Amazon and Google all have products showing the damage you do and now so does Softbank offshoot

Alibaba is following in the footsteps of larger rivals by launching a tool that customers can use to measure and manage the carbon emissions of their business with the aim of lowering their environmental impact.

Energy Expert is a SaaS-based platform developed and operated by Alibaba Cloud, the computing services arm of China-based Alibaba Group. It is described as a sustainability platform to help organizations measure, analyse and manage the carbon emissions of their commercial activities.

Pricing details were not available, although Alibaba told us: "Energy Expert is a paid service, based on customers' specific requirements."

Although this is the global launch of the platform, Alibaba said it was operating in China since February and so far more than 2,000 customers have signed up. It is claimed to have delivered energy savings of in excess of 2 million kilowatt hours per day, or a reduction of 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions during this period.

According to Alibaba, Energy Expert enables users to put in place an automated carbon accounting and reporting process at both a corporate and product level. It is intended to give companies a way to identify the sources of carbon emissions from their daily business activities, as well as the full life cycle of their products, based on the internationally recognised ISO 14064 standard for carbon footprint verification and the PAS 2060 specifications for carbon neutrality.

Energy Expert gets its analytics on energy efficiency and emission forecasts through deep learning models that are hosted on Alibaba Cloud.

With Energy Expert, organizations can monitor the progress of their sustainability performance through visualisations on dashboards and online reports, designed to provide visibility into real-time carbon dioxide emission patterns.

The platform also features optimisation plans with recommendations to help balance business growth and environmental impacts, according to Alibaba. These may cover increasing the use of clean energy, reducing electricity consumption during peak times and ways of optimising an organization’s supply chain.

Alibaba said that it used Energy Expert itself to implement sustainability measures at its Xixi campus in Hangzhou. It claims to have reduced power consumption at the site by 30 percent by following recommendations that included intelligent control of the air-conditioning system and the installation of roof-top solar energy panels.

Alibaba is not the only cloud giant offering to help customers monitor and reduce their carbon footprint. In October, Microsoft released the Emissions Impact Dashboard and Google rolled out a tool to measure the damage customers' compute workloads are doing to the world.

More recently, Amazon unveiled its Customer Carbon Footprint Tool, available to all AWS customers at no cost. In this case, however, the tool is designed to analyze the carbon dioxide emissions being generated by the infrastructure resources AWS is using, rather than those generated by the customer themselves.

Earlier this year, Alibaba joined a coalition of companies agreeing to open up access to energy efficient and green technologies by making relevant patents available as part of the Low Carbon Patent Pledge (LCPP). One such patent covers a liquid immersion cooling system developed in 2015 that Alibaba claims reduced its datacenter energy expenditure by 70 percent.

According to research by Greenpeace, the tech industry will use 20 percent of the world's electricity by 2025 up from 7 percent in 2020. The jump is is being attributed in part to the jump in cloud computing, where global revenues generated by use of public infrastructure clouds have grown by arounde a third each quarter since the pandemic. ®

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