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Data Center Power Consumption

Data Center Power Consumption

Data Center Power Consumption


Data centers are the foundation of the internet, storing and processing the information that powers our online world. From social media to scientific computing, data centers handle the massive amounts of data we generate daily. However, these facilities require a significant amount of power to function, raising concerns about their environmental impact. Here we explore data center power consumption, its environmental impact, and strategies for improving energy efficiency.

Current Statistics

  • Energy Consumption at Scale: Data centers in the United States alone used over 90 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2017. To generate this power, massive coal-fired plants, each producing at least 500 megawatts (MW), would be needed.
  • Global Impact: On a global scale, data centers consume an estimated 416 terawatts (TW) of power, representing approximately 3% of the world’s total electricity usage. This number is projected to grow as the demand for data center services continues to rise.
Electricity Usage of Data Centers

Power Consumption Breakdown

  • Energy Guzzlers: Within a data center, servers and cooling systems are the biggest consumers of energy. Network devices and storage drives also contribute to the overall energy footprint.
  • Power Demands: Large data centers can require over 100MW of power to operate. This is enough electricity to power roughly 80,000 households.

Impact on Environment

  • CO2 Emissions Concerns: High power use translates to concerns about CO2 emissions. However, quantifying these emissions is challenging due to a lack of comprehensive data on global data center operations and the specific energy sources powering them.
  • Shifting Towards Renewables: Leading data center operators are recognizing the environmental impact and are starting to shift towards using renewable energy sources to power their facilities.

Improving Efficiency

  • Tech Advancements: Advancements in technology have led to the development of more energy-efficient IT devices, reducing the overall power consumption of data centers.
  • Server Virtualization: Server virtualization allows multiple applications to run on a single server, maximizing resource utilization and reducing the number of physical servers needed, which in turn lowers power consumption.
  • Cloud and Hyper-Scale Efficiency: Cloud and hyper-scale data centers are designed with efficient cooling systems and optimizing PUE, further minimizing their energy footprint.

Factors Affecting Efficiency

  • IT Device Efficiency: The energy efficiency of the IT devices themselves significantly impacts a data center’s overall power consumption.
  • Server Virtualization: Server virtualization software plays a crucial role in optimizing server usage and reducing energy demands.
  • Data Center Design: The design and infrastructure of cloud and hyper-scale data centers are specifically optimized for efficient cooling, MEP infrastructure and energy use.

Mitigating Concerns

Overestimated Emissions: Extrapolation models, often used to estimate data center CO2 emissions, tend to overestimate the actual impact compared to bottom-up studies. Bottom-up studies consider actual power use characteristics and provide a more accurate picture.

Power Your Data Center Efficiently!

Energy bills soaring? Worried about your data center’s environmental impact? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about data center power management solutions and benefit from our expertise on data center efficiency.

Looking To The Future

  • Continued investment in energy-efficient technologies is crucial to manage future energy demands. 
  • Data sharing and collaboration are essential for developing best practices and reliable models to track energy consumption. 
  • Exploring solutions for emerging trends like AI and 5G/6G is necessary to maintain efficiency.


Data centers are vital for our digital world, but their power consumption requires thoughtful solutions. By implementing energy-efficient measures and adopting renewable energy sources, we can ensure a sustainable future for data centers. Additionally, adopting microgrids for data centers can provide a future-ready power infrastructure that facilitates a smooth transition to zero or near-zero carbon emissions. This approach not only promotes sustainability but also allows data centers to integrate and manage renewable energy sources more effectively, aligning with evolving energy regulations and market demands.


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