We are used to the convenience offered by the Internet. Today, cloud-based solutions dominate both in the professional sphere and in our personal lives. We work and spend our free time online - we buy games, talk, listen to music, and consume films and TV shows. We rarely think about how it all affects the environment. And it's a significant impact - comparable to that of the aviation industry (about 2-3% of total CO2 emission). All because of the enormous demand for energy. According to calculations by Anders Andrae, a researcher working for Huawei Technologies in Sweden, worldwide server rooms will consume 651 terawatt hours of electricity in 2020, about as much as is needed to sustain the whole of Canada for a year.
The biggest culprit of the current situation is streaming video content. According to Sandvine analysts, services such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney account for 60.6% of Internet traffic. What's worse, taking into account technological development and new possibilities (e.g. streaming games, features using AI or 5G network), in the future the amount of data that we send and receive on a daily basis will increase even more - and very much so. And that means we'll need even more servers.
According to Anders Andrae, the energy demand from data centres will at least double over the next decade. In 2030, their maintenance will consume 11% of energy generated worldwide. In the next ten years, in 2040, we'll get to the point where the current model can no longer be sustained. Significant changes are needed and some companies have already realized this. In the past year, more than 50 percent of the energy needed to maintain Amazon's servers came from so-called renewable sources. Google also invests heavily in such solutions.
Finally, it is worth noting that there is no shortage of factors that affect the environment even more than the server rooms, the best examples are agriculture and cattle breeding. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing how our lifestyle affects the environment and perhaps refraining sometimes from downloading / streaming things that we don't really need.
- YouTube - official website
- Netflix - official website
- Amazon Prime Video - official website
Last update: 2020-01-07