We use the internet for almost anything.
Whether for checking our social media feeds, looking up a question we have, or even streaming our
favorite TV shows. What we may not realize is the backend implications of these simple clicks. A simple Google search can activate servers in different data centers around the world and consumes real energy resources.
Although there is no single definitive figure of how much electricity Internet consumes, the estimation is that powering digital devices (computers and smartphones) and the supporting infrastructures (communication networks and data centers) amount to up to 5% of global electricity in 2012. Should the broadcast infrastructures such as televisions, audio/visual equipment are included it could rise at 9%.
Energy Usage and Demands
To date, data centers consume 2% of the electricity around the world. By the year 2030, that figure could rise to up to 8%. U.S. data centers alone consumed 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity back in 2014, and this reflects the amount that American homes used up that year alone. Data centers need electricity to power their servers, storage equipment, power cooling infrastructure, and backups. Because it requires electricity, it gives off heat needing to control the temperatures below 26°C, and this cooling can also take up 40% of electricity usage.
With the shift to cloud-based technology, such as streaming movies online, there will be implications in the industry and pushing information and communications technology (ICT) sectors forward. The rise of new technologies like with cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, and 5G networks means that the demand for data is strong and that electricity consumption will keep surging. With the growth in Internet traffic being almost exponential, the traffic has risen from 100 GB per second in 2002 to 26,000 GB per second in 2016, and this value is expected to triple in the next 5 years. Within the mobile data traffic realm, the numbers have also been increasing but at a more dramatic rate with a reported 70% growth globally between 2016 and 2017.
Because when we think of internet and data usage as something that happens invisibly to us, we might often overlook the existence of these data centers. The implications of demanding more and more connectivity through the internet is that more energy is channeled to these data centers. Because this energy is nonrenewable, it can add to the carbon emissions affecting our atmosphere. It has been said that data centers contribute 0.3% to global carbon emissions while the whole ICT sector contributes to over 2%, with a chance to still increase with the passage of time.
On the other end of the spectrum, ‘smart’ innovations are expected to reduce the demand for energy across many sectors of society. But some argue that because everyday life fosters new more energy-intensive practices that can counterbalance these savings that come from these smart devices.
New Consumption Patterns
In addition, within households, there have been new recurring patterns that shape the way we consume energy. The arrival of the new Internet-connectedness in homes alongside older information technologies such as TVs and audio systems take up a significant share of the household energy consumption. In the UK, monitoring the households show that consumer electronics consume around 20-23% of non-heating related electricity use.
Just like with national electricity grids, the traffic on Internet networks differs throughout the day. Traffic during the evening peak time is growing faster than the average and hold accountable for that are the growing video-related traffic. This is usually the case after having an evening meal and coincides with people most probably watching TV or any video related activity associated with that time of the day. Mobile usage is also noted to peak in the evening but at a later hour of 10 pm to 11 pm.
It’s no secret that Internet usage has its corresponding energy consumption to match it. You can stay ahead of the bill by having a reliable energy monitoring system. Whether you’re trying to be smarter about your home energy consumption or want to cut costs in the business, then having an accessible monitoring system like Envision may be the one for you. Envision is great because it not only shows you real-time and historical data but you can take it anywhere through the Envision app that comes along with it. Important alerts would never fly by your head and it would keep you up to date on the status of your energy usage. Be more energy efficient by taking control of your power usage. Learn more about Envision here.