One thing we have learnt this week – indirect gadget energy use

I’ve been reminded about indirect gadget energy use this week.  I’ve blogged on this before but the article I read was a real eye opener.   Here are some of the claims.

  • Soon data centres will have a bigger carbon footprint than the aviation industry (and that is big).
  • Bitcoin “mining” will use produce more CO2 than 1 million flights.
  • Most astonishing of all.  The use of the internet in Japan by 2030 may use more power than the countries current generating capacity.

There are two trends going on here.  The first is that the devices we actually use are getting more efficient.  The EU has pioneered this.  So my new sophisticated boiler has a standby of 1W, my laptop uses less power than my old one etc.  This however is being outdone by the “internet of things”.  This connectivity which we are just at the start of will increase the “need” for big data.  (I would question whether its desirable to have an internet connected fridge).

Raspberry_Pi_2_Model_B_v1.1_top_new_(bg_cut_out)The second trend is more and more people are getting connected to the internet.  This is great especially in the developing world but it does mean that the internets’ energy use is rising.  Of course this is countered by the trend of more efficient sever centres, with companies putting them in cold places or even trying them underwater.  Plus computer are getting more energy efficient.

Is there a solution to indirect gadget energy use?  I’m not sure there really is.  We can hold the big tech companies to account on where their power is coming from.  But ultimately we need to learn to be less obsessive bout our devices.

Neil

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