Data Center Energy Consumption Growing, But More Slowly

Vertatique launched in 2007 with a post citing a study about data center energy consumption. A new study shows that while global data center energy consumption has continued to grow, the grow appears to be slowing.

Johathan Koomey, author of that original study, has studied ICT energy consumption for the better part of the 21st century. Koomey now writes in his blog, "…electricity used by data centers worldwide increased by about 56% from 2005 to 2010 instead of doubling (as it did from 2000 to 2005), while in the US it increased by about 36% instead of doubling…Electricity used in global data centers in 2010 likely accounted for between 1.1% and 1.5% of total electricity use, respectively. For the US that number was between 1.7 and 2.2%."

In the report itself, Koomey lays out the causes: "Growth in the installed base of servers in data centers had already begun to slow by early 2007 because of virtualization and other factors…The 2008 financial crisis, the associated economic slowdown, and further improvements in virtualization led to a significant reduction in actual server installed base by 2010 compared to the IDC installed base forecast published in 2007." One apparent consequence of virtualization is that "Growth in electricity used per server probably accounted for a larger share of demand growth from 2005 to 2010 than it did in 2000 to 2005." You can access the report through a link on his blog.

I conclude from Kommey's most recent numbers that no one data center operator, not even Google, accounts for much more than 0.01% of global electricity consumption.

One of our most frequently-accessed posts cites Koomey's work on server electricity consumption.

Following is our original post, followed by its comments.

If there is any doubt that IT and electronic media cannot continue to coast on reputations as "clean" industries, an AMD-sponsored study released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory should dispel that.

The study says that both U.S. and worldwide server energy consumption has doubled in the past 5 years and U.S. consumption now equals that of color TVs. The lab puts the domestic annual energy bill at US$2.7B and climbing.

It's time to get serious about the energy costs and carbon impact of our online operations. You can find more information at:
PDF of study
Interview with study author
San Francisco Chronicle article comparing study to previous estimates

Update 2010.01.10
According to Reuters, "information and communications technology is now estimated to cause more carbon pollution than aviation." Reuters does not source this statement.

PC Power Management

Looks like we should be focusing on the enterprise to estate to make savings with applications such as Utopia Power Manager.

More relevant info from

More relevant info from Nicolas Carr:

Whereas the focus of those organizations running traditional business-computing operations is cost cutting through consolidation, the focus of those operating the new mega computing operations (like Google, say) is achieving efficiency at massive computing scale (through, for instance, reducing electricity consumption). There's a fundamental split opening up in the market, in other words: two very different sets of customers (one with stagnant demand and one with burgeoning demand) with very different needs.
David Washburn


Any chance to sell that heat to consumers?

David Washburn

Waste Heat

See examples in Switzerland and Finland.

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