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How Much Energy Do Data Centers Really Use?

Suzie Ocie's picture
Energy Consultant Suzie Ocie Consulting

Energy consultant

  • Member since 2019
  • 7 items added with 10,887 views
  • May 4, 2022


Data centers are a vital part of the modern world. They allow us to store and access information faster than ever before. But with that increased speed comes an increased demand for energy. 

How much energy do data centers really use? And is there anything we can do to make them more efficient? In this blog post, we will take a closer look at data center energy usage and what we can do to measure and reduce data center energy consumption

What is a data center?

A computer is required to access anything on the internet, just like applications are needed to operate on your laptop. These servers are computers that run server software.

They are similar to a laptop but lack a screen or keyboard and must be located somewhere where they have access to the internet, power, and cooling. Data centers are examples of such locations.

Many logistics providers offer storage services for their clients' goods. These warehouses can range in size from tiny 100ft2 cabinets to much larger warehouses depending on much data they need to store.

Whenever you utilize a service on the internet, you're connecting to one of the millions of servers distributed across hundreds of data centers located in North America and Europe.

Do data centers use AC or DC power?

The two most popular data center power systems are direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). It would be tough to convert an existing data center architecture to DC because most data centers utilize AC electricity. 

When it comes to building a new data center, on the other hand, DC energy is certainly an intriguing alternative. With a direct current data center, the power conversion process is more efficient because there are no AC-to-DC or DC-to-AC conversions required.

Do data centers use a lot of electricity?

Energy is required to operate computer equipment in data centers. To keep the equipment cool, they also require a substantial quantity of it. The amount of power used by all of these data centers is a point of contention.

According to many experts, data storage and transmission in and out of data centers consume 1% of global electricity at this time. However, this is just an estimated figure and some feel this number could be much higher. 

Why do data centers consume a lot of power?

The rise in consumption was primarily caused by existing data centers using more power, as well as new ones being added to the grid. The results were released amid a contentious debate about data centers' energy use.

Data centers use a significant amount of energy for a variety of reasons. One reason is that they require a lot of power to keep the equipment cool. In addition, the number of data centers has been increasing, which has led to an overall increase in energy consumption.

What are the benefits of using data centers?

Data centers offer a variety of advantages for businesses, including: 

  • Increased speed and performance
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Cost savings

Organizations that rely on data centers to keep their business running smoothly include online retailers, banks, other financial institutions, social media networks, and internet service providers.

How can we make data centers more energy efficient?

There are many ways to make data centers more energy efficient. One way is by improving server efficiency. This can be done by optimizing the software and hardware used in data centers. Additionally, data center operators can use energy management tools to help them better understand and optimize their energy usage.

Another way to make data centers more energy efficient is by using alternative energy sources. Data centers can use solar, wind, or hydro power to offset their energy consumption. Additionally, data centers can take advantage of waste heat by using it to power other equipment in the facility.

Data center operators can also improve the efficiency of their cooling systems. This can be done by using more efficient cooling equipment and improving the airflow in the data center.

Finally, data centers can improve their energy efficiency by using less energy-intensive equipment. For example, data centers can use more efficient servers and storage devices. Additionally, data centers can use lights that emit less heat and utilize more efficient cooling systems.

By taking these measures, we can make data centers more efficient and help to reduce the amount of energy they consume. 

Do data centers use solar power?

Solar energy, in its current form, isn't adequate to satisfy data center power demands. The cost of putting up substantial photo-voltaic solar panels is high, and based on current material costs as well as installation expenses, it takes a long time to recoup investments.

The average data center uses about as much energy in a year as 500,000 homes. A large percentage of this power is used for cooling the servers, so using solar panels to heat up water for this purpose could make a big dent in data center energy usage. The technology is simply not ready to handle the demand for energy that most data centers use at this time. 

How is the energy measured at data centers? 

Data centers use a variety of equipment to measure and monitor their energy usage. This includes power meters, data collectors, and energy management software. By using this equipment, data center operators can better understand how much energy they are using and identify areas where they can reduce their consumption.

In addition, many data centers are starting to use renewable energy sources to help offset their energy consumption. This includes solar, wind, and hydropower. By using these alternative energy sources, data centers can reduce their overall energy usage and help to protect the environment.

Data centers play a critical role in our economy and society. They enable businesses to operate more efficiently and provide people with access to information and services that they wouldn't otherwise have. 

Final Thoughts

Data centers are a vital part of the modern world. They allow us to store and access information faster than ever before. But with that increased speed comes an increased demand

Do you have any tips for how to measure and reduce data center energy consumption? Let us know in the comments below!


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 4, 2022

Do you think data centers can be tapped into as a sort of flexible 'load on demand' for offtaking energy when that 'service' is most needed, similar to how some cryptocurrency uses are being touted? 

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on May 4, 2022

Susie, I used to work in large data centers. They produce a lot of heat. So locating them in cold climates makes they much more efficient. The waste heat keeps the temperatures just right with no added air conditioning or heat. 

Suzie Ocie's picture
Thank Suzie for the Post!
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