Data Centres’ Electricity Consumption To Double By 2026

There are currently approximately 8,000 data centres globally, mainy spread across the US, Europe and China. With their already high energy consumption set to double, how can renewable energy step in to help make the internet more sustainable?

Hello everyone!

This is Amy’s Hot Topic of the week.

Last week we talked about how European solar panel manufacturers are struggling to stay afloat; and the importance of buying local for everything where we can. This week I want to talk about the rise in electricity demand of data centres and how this can be an opportunity for renewable energy to come to the forefront.

How The AI Boom Is Affecting Energy Consumption

The increase in the demand for electricity for data centres comes from the need to support internet activity and the AI boom. In the next few years (as little as 2 years), the electricity demand associated with this could double! To put this in perspective, data centres could use as much electricity as the population of Japan does today, and that’s a population of 125 million. That’s definitely not living under 2 kWh!

These numbers come from an International Energy Agency (IEA) report, estimating electricity consumption could go from 460 terawatt-hours in 2022, to more than 1,000 terawatt-hours by 2026. Just one terawatt-hour is the amount of energy equivalent to producing 1 trillion watts for an hour, that’s 1,000,000,000 kWh. So, the amount of kWh these data centres are using currently and will be using in a couple of years is so massive it is hard to comprehend.

These numbers are extremely big and daunting, but it is important to remember how much we rely on the internet. Plus, AI has become more and more integrated into society and despite many different feelings about it, it has helped in many ways. Some benefits include: increased productivity of highly computational tasks; smart decision making along with integration with CRM (customer relationship management); complex problem solving with Machine Learning and Deep Learning; and strengthening the economy with an estimated contribution of over $15 trillion to the world by 2030. Therefore, the use of AI has put increasing pressure on the demand for data centres.

A Big Opportunity For Renewable Energy

It is important to keep this in mind before we start to say how terrible it is that these data centres are using so much electricity. Data centres are integral to modern society. So, instead of seeing this as negative, we should see the opportunity to use more renewable energy sources instead of ones that are causing carbon emissions, environmental damage and climate change.

Due to how much electricity is being consumed, it is crucial to moderate this surge in energy consumption. To do this, the IEA has recommended setting new regulations and creating technological improvements to increase the efficiency of data centres. Currently, there are approximately 8,000 data centres globally, the US has 33%, Europe 16% and China 10%. All are estimated to have significant growth in the next few years and beyond.

Now for some good news, the IEA has officially stated that they expect the global increase in electricity demand to be covered by the major rise in electricity generation from low-emission sources. Such as nuclear power, but also renewable sources like solar panels, wind power and hydropower. This could be amazing growth for renewable energy manufacturers, such as the European solar panel manufacturers that are struggling to stay in business currently (remember last week’s blog post!).

Despite the overconsumption of electricity, this is a great opportunity for big companies to use more renewable energy sources.

I hope everyone has a lovely week, and I will see you next week for another of Amy’s Hot Topics.


#2kWh #undertwok


New Scientist – Electricity Demand from Data Centres Set to Double by 2026 – January 24th, 2024 – Jeremy Hsu.
Edureka – Benefits of Artificial Intelligence – February 3rd, 2024.

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