Data centres of the world will consume 1/5 of Earth’s power by 2025

Industry data security

Alarming new research suggests that failure to source renewable energy could make data centres one of the biggest polluters in just seven years.

The rapid adoption of data-hungry machines and services is driving the need for more power to keep the lights on in the data centres of the world.

As analysts estimate as many as 50 billion devices to be connected by 2020, with some statistics pointing to more than 100 billion a further five years down the line, new alarming research suggests that data centres will be one of the biggest energy consumers on the planet, beating many countries’ energy consumption levels.

According to a paper to be published by US researchers before the end of the year, the ICT industry is posed to be responsible for up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020, with this value potentially escalating to 14% by 2040, according to Climate Change News.

Researchers say this will be directly related to the fact that the data centre sector could be using 20% of all available electricity in the world by 2025 on the back of the large amounts of data being created at a fastest speed than ever before seen.

The figures meet those published by Swedish researcher and Senior Expert Life Cycle Assessment at Huawei, Anders Andrae in 2016 in his “Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast”.

Andrae predicts that by 2025, data centres will amount to ICT’s largest share of global electricity production at 33%, followed by smartphones (15%) networks (10%) and TV (9%).

As for the wider global usage, Andrae also expects data centres to use 20% of the world’s energy, however, he places their carbon footprint at 5.5% of the global value, should adoption of more efficient energy sources not evolve at speed.

The exponential utilisation of energy by data centres is not new, with the amount of power consumed increasing 9% between 2010 and 2015, according to KPN Integrated.

On the global scale, data centres are poised to be the largest global energy users by 2025 at 4.5%, an increase from just 0.9% in 2015, according to Andrae’s report.

In comparison, consumer devices, fixed access wired services, wireless networks and production are all set to lag behind data centres in terms of energy usage.

Globally, data centres were in 2014 responsible for around 1.62% of the world’s utilised energy that year, according to Yole Développement.

That has increased today to more than 3% of the world’s energy (around 420 terawatts) and data centres are also responsible for 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions.