China’s internet data centres to use as much power as Australia by 2023
Data centres are complex networks of computer servers that host emails we exchange, photos, videos and online transactions.Updated: Sep 09, 2019 19:17 IST
China’s rapidly expanding internet data centres will trigger a surge in power consumption by two-thirds in the next four years, setting back the country’s goals to curb pollution, a new local study has forecast.
Simply put, if not curbed, by 2023, the “…sector is projected to consume 267 TWh (or terawatt-hour) of electricity, more than Australia’s total 2018 electricity consumption,” the report said, adding that the Chinese data centre industry is currently powered 73 percent by coal.
“The environmental impact of the data centres sector’s reliance on coal power is significant. CO2 emissions from the sector amounted to 99 million tonnes in 2018,” the report said.
Data centres are complex networks of computer servers that host emails we exchange, photos, videos and online transactions
Ironically, according to a Reuters report, big data is set to “…play an increasing role in supplying cleaner electricity, especially in the creation of decentralised ‘smart grid’ systems, but it is also becoming one of the biggest consumers of power in China and elsewhere”.
The report released on Monday was compiled by Greenpeace East Asia and the North China Electric Power University.
“While China’s data centre industry has made significant improvements in terms of energy efficiency, the industry’s massive carbon footprint is proof that much more action is needed to increase reliance on clean energy sources,” Greenpeace’s climate campaigner, Ye Ruiqi said.
“Power market reforms and rapid growth in wind and solar power have created unprecedented opportunities for China’s internet giants to procure clean energy. The data centre sector can and should play a leading role in China’s energy transition from heavy reliance on coal to renewable energy,” Ye added.
Researchers studied 44 data centres across 12 Chinese provinces and found that nearly 90 percent of the centres sourced power directly from the grid and were yet to take measures to procure renewable energy.
They identified three ways to change the situation - by building or investing in renewable projects, procuring clean power directly from renewable energy generators, and purchasing green power certificates.
“As China’s power market reforms deepen, a growing number of procurement mechanisms will become available,” the report said.
First Published: Sep 09, 2019 18:13 IST