Big data energy bill

Dual_processorBig data energy bill.  The amount of energy the internet is responsible for is increasing.  This is a hidden amount of energy that we do not think about.  In 2009 someone claimed that each google search produced 7g of CO2.  This figure was denied by google who stated it was far lower at 0.2g CO2.  This is still quite a lot of energy.  It worth thinking about where this energy use and hence the big data energy bill comes from.  Some of it comes from electricity use of masses of computers in server farms being left on and some comes form the cooling of these server farms.

The big internet companies have responded to this criticism in a number of ways.  They have made their server farms more efficient by reusing the heat or even siting their farms in cold parts of the world, like Finland.  They have also been helped by the continuing efficiency of technological change with machines using less power.  They have also bought or installed lots of renewables and it should be said lobbied or ignored Trump on climate change.

Despite this the energy use of the internet continues to grow.  Currently its 7% of worldwide electricity use.  By 2020 it will be 12%.  Its an astonishing figure.  What amazes me is that humanity keeps coming up with new ways of using energy.  Another digital villain producing a big data energy bill is the online currency bitcoin.   This next bit is a bit difficult for those of us not involved with it to understand.  You can buy coins or earn them by verifying them digitally (bitcoin mining).  This last thing requires a small server farm…  It reckoned that bitcoin uses more electricity than 159 countries or 0.31% of world electricity and by 2020 bitcoin mining will need as much electricity as Denmark.  Solutions?  Not many- stay off the internet and use bookmarks.

Neil

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