Data ‘tsunami’ to absorb 20% of world electricity


It’s the “Dirty Cloud,” says journalist John Vidal in a recent tweet. Vidal is referring to energy use by data centers, which he wrote about in an article for Climate Home News.

In the story, published this week, the Guardian environment writer reveals a bleak picture of future global climate change emissions. Bleak, in part, because the discouraging projections he writes of are caused not by, as one might expect, fossil fuel power plants and internal combustion engine users, but by communications and data center power use.

Vidal says he’s privy to upcoming research that claims the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector could create up to 3.5 percent of global emissions by 2020 (more than aviation and shipping verticals) and up to 14 percent by 2040 (the same as the entire U.S., as a country, produces today).

Those numbers will hinder climate change targets, he believes.

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