Research firm International data Corporation (IDC) estimates that by 2025 152,000 new devices will be jumping, directly or indirectly, onto the Internet every minute, bringing the total number of connected devices to 80 billion worldwide.
The Berkeley Lab report says that data centers are on track to use 73 billion kwh by 2020. That’s a much slower pace of power demand growth than in the early days of the interwebs — in large part because most new servers are being deployed in very large data centers (think 400,000 square feet) that operate at high utilization rates and with advanced cooling systems and redundant power supplies. If not for increases in efficiency since 2010, data centers would likely be using 200 billion kwh by 2020. More efficiency gains can be achieved by getting rid of “zombie” servers that are obsolete or unused, but still plugged in.
And there’s something else to think about: for all this electricity that we use updating Facebook FB +0.06% or streaming Game of Thrones, think about all the energy we’re not using on the stuff we used to have before the internet, like paper phonebooks and encyclopedias, snail mail, fax machines, book stores, Tower Records, Blockbuster Video, nudity in Playboy magazine.
In time the energy we use to power the internet (and the internet of things) will save us even more energy in what used to be called the real world. As the Berkeley Lab researchers wrote in their study, “seamless telework results in less commuting, and driverless vehicles allow for more productive use of commuting time.”