Alibaba Cloud is following rivals such as Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud with the launch of a new tool for customers to measure the carbon emissions associated with their business.

Energy Expert is a software-as-a-service offering offered by Alibaba Cloud, which is the cloud computing arm of China’s Alibaba Group Ltd. The company describes the offering as a “sustainability platform” that helps analyze, measure and then manage carbon emissions resulting from customer’s business activities.

Prior to today’s global rollout, the offering has been up and running in China since February. There, more than 2,000 customers have signed up, Alibaba Cloud said. Those customers are said to have enjoyed combined energy savings of more than 2 million kilowatt hours per day, reducing their carbon emissions by about 400,000 tons.

Alibaba Cloud said customers can use Energy Expert to setup automated carbon accounting and reporting processes at both the corporate and product level. The idea is that it helps companies identify their primary sources of carbon emissions more easily, based on the internationally accepted ISO 14064 standard for carbon footprint verification.

Then, Alibaba Cloud puts machine learning algorithms to work to perform analytics relating to energy efficiency and emission forecasts. Customers can then keep tabs on their sustainability efforts through various visualizations and reports that provide real-time visibility into their carbon emission patterns.

One of the most useful features seems to be Energy Expert’s “optimization plan,” which provide recommendations on how to balance business growth with the environmental impact of that expansion. Such recommendations include tapping into cleaner energy sources and reducing power consumption during peak times, the company said.

Alibaba Cloud has used Energy Expert itself to good effect. The platform allowed it to implement sustainability measures at one of its office campuses in Hangzhou, China, slashing energy consumption there by around 30%. It achieved this through the installation of solar energy panels and an intelligent control system for its air conditioning.

With the launch of Energy Expert, Alibaba Cloud is matching rivals in the cloud computing space by giving conscientious customers an easy way to scale back their carbon emissions. These days, enterprises in almost every industry are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, from both consumers and governments. With cloud computing providers being responsible for powering much of their business operations, they’re also in a prime position to help enterprises do something about it.

One of the first to realize this was Microsoft Corp., which launched its Emissions Impact Dashboard last October. It was followed by Google Cloud, which announced the launch of its Carbon Footprint tool that same month.

Earlier this year, AWS introduced a Customer Carbon Footprint Tool for all customers at no added cost. However, that particular tool is more limited, giving customers a way to analyze the carbon footprint of their AWS cloud infrastructure use, rather than their entire business operations.

Cloud providers may well feel the need to help customers reduce their energy usage as much as they can, with Greenpeace saying the tech industry will account for 20% of the world’s electricity by 2025, rising from just 7% in 2020.

Image: rawpixel.com/Freepik

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