The impact of data centres on the environment has been largely overestimated, according to a new study published in Science. Contrary to analysts’ predictions, energy consumption is not increasing in proportion to the activity of data centers worldwide .
Over the last ten years, data traffic has increased tenfold and the volume of stored data has increased 25-fold. As a result, data centres have sprouted up all over the planet….
Analysts feared the Big Data explosion would have disastrous consequences for the climate. For good reason, servers in data centers consume a lot of electricity and require a lot of energy to run. Cooling systems that also consume a lot of energy..
However, a welcome new study reveals that the rise of the Cloud is not ultimately accompanied by an increase in energy consumption. The study, published in Science, is led by Eric Masanet, a professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University.
It is based in particular on reports from Cisco Systems, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the International Energy Agency. For good reason, there are no national statistics reports on the Data Centers.
Data Centers are 550% more active than in 2010, energy consumption only increased by 6%.
According to the study, in 2010, data centres consumed 194 terawatt hours of electricity. By 2018, consumption increased to 205 terawatt hours. This represents a slight increase of 6%.. At the same time, however, Data Centre activity has increased by 550%.
Thus, the authors of the study estimate that the analysts simply extrapolated the link between the growth of the Cloud and the energy consumption of data centers. This would have led to “unreliable predictions of current and future data center power consumption.
Rather than collect and analyse data on energy useIn the case of the Internet, most researchers were content to estimate that this use would increase in proportion to web traffic.
However, these predictions have come up against the fact that Data Centers are becoming increasingly energy efficient.. The rise of “hyperscale” centres has also helped to thwart the trend.
Following the publication of this study, Google expressed itself on its blog. The Mountain View giant is delighted with this reassuring discovery, and points out that it has made numerous efforts to reduce its energy consumption and power its servers with renewable energy. With the same amount of energy, Google can provide seven times more computing power than 5 years ago..
This trend is expected to continue in the coming years with the democratization of hyperscale centres. even though global data center activity is expected to double in the next three to four years.. The study concludes by recommending that governments should take action to support the environmental efforts of the tech giants.