1. My new study of data center electricity use in 2010

    I just released my new study on data center electricity use in 2010.  I did the research as an exclusive for the New York Times, and John Markoff at the Times wrote an article on it that will appear in the print paper August 1, 2011.  You can download the new report here.

    Key findings:

    Assuming that the midpoint between the Upper and Lower bound cases accurately reflects the history, electricity used by data centers worldwide increased by about 56% from 2005 to 2010 instead of doubling (as it did from 2000 to 2005), while in the US it increased by about 36% instead of doubling. 

    Electricity used in global data centers in 2010 likely accounted for between 1.1% and 1.5% of total electricity use, respectively. For the US that number was between 1.7 and 2.2%. 

    Electricity used in US data centers in 2010 was significantly lower than predicted by the EPA’s 2007 report to Congress on data centers. That result reflected this study’s reduced electricity growth rates compared to earlier estimates, which were driven mainly by a lower server installed base than was earlier predicted rather than the efficiency improvements anticipated in the report to Congress. 

    While Google is a high profile user of computer servers, less than 1% of electricity used by data centers worldwide was attributable to that company’s data center operations.  To my knowledge, this is the first time that Google has revealed specific details about their total data center electricity use (they gave me an upper bound, not an exact number, but something is better than nothing!).

    In summary, the rapid rates of growth in data center electricity use that prevailed from 2000 to 2005 slowed significantly from 2005 to 2010, yielding total electricity use by data centers in 2010 of about 1.3% of all electricity use for the world, and 2% of all electricity use for the US.

    The new study is a follow-onto my 2008 article:

    Koomey, Jonathan. 2008. “Worldwide electricity used in data centers.”  Environmental Research Letters.  vol. 3, no. 034008. September 23. <http://stacks.iop.org/1748-9326/3/034008>

    Suggested citation: Koomey, Jonathan. 2011. Growth in Data center electricity use 2005 to 2010. Oakland, CA: Analytics Press. August 1. <http://www.analyticspress.com/datacenters.html>

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I research, consult, and lecture about climate solutions, critical thinking skills, and the environmental effects of information technology.

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