SOURCE: Climate Change News

DATE: December 11, 2017

SNIP: The communications industry could use 20% of all the world’s electricity by 2025, hampering global attempts to meet climate change targets and straining grids as demand by power-hungry server farms storing digital data from billions of smartphones, tablets and internet-connected devices grows exponentially.

The industry has long argued that it can considerably reduce carbon emissions by increasing efficiency and reducing waste, but academics are challenging industry assumptions. A new paper, due to be published by US researchers later this month, will forecast that information and communications technology, or ICT, could create up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020 – surpassing aviation and shipping – and up to 14% 2040 – around the same proportion as the US today.

In an update to a 2016 peer-reviewed study, Andrae found that without dramatic increases in efficiency, the ICT industry could use 20% of all electricity and emit up to 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions by 2025. This would be more than any country except the US, China and India.

He expects industry power demand to increase from 2-300Twh of electricity a year now, to 1,200 or even 3,000Twh by 2025. Data centres on their own could produce 1.9Gt (or 3.2% of the global total) carbon emissions, he says.

The situation is alarming,” said Andrae, who works for Chinese communications technology firm Huawei.

Greenpeace IT analyst Gary Cook says only about 20% of the electricity used in the world’s data centres is so far renewable.