Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Greenpeace warns over power needs of PRC data centers


China’s data centers — the backbone of the country’s fast-growing digital economy — are on track to guzzle more electricity by 2023 than all of Australia last year, said a Greenpeace report published yesterday.

While China leads the world in renewable energy capacity, data centers in the country remain dependent on coal.

Nearly three-quarters of the electricity used by data centers last year was sourced from coal, according to research by Greenpeace East Asia and the North China Electric Power University — emitting 99 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

By 2023, that number could jump to 163 million tonnes.

The appetite for data storage and transmission in China has skyrocketed in recent years, with 800 million online users and a booming tech industry churning out photographs, videos, and online transactions.

“While China’s data center industry has made significant improvements in terms of energy efficiency, the industry’s massive carbon footprint is proof that much more action is needed,” said Ye Ruiqi (葉睿琪), climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, adding that the centers are not aware of their “responsibility to respond to climate change.”

According to the Greenpeace report, electricity consumption from China’s data center industry is projected to increase by 66 percent over the next five years and by 2023, the industry will exceed Australia’s total electricity consumption last year.

By boosting the intake of renewable energy from its current 23 percent to 30 percent, Chinese tech companies could save roughly the equivalent of 10 million round-trip transatlantic flights in carbon emissions, Greenpeace East Asia said.

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