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In 2014 data centers in the United States used 70 billion kWH about 1.8 percent of all energy consumption and enough to power about 6.4 million homes peryear, according to a report from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL). Data centers have seen huge increases in power consumption over the last fifteen years. Most notable is the dot-com period from 2000-2005 when power consumption surged by 90 percent.
Based on projected growth and current data center energy usage, between now and 2020, power consumption will continue to grow annually about four percent per year. But the report suggests that instead data centers should adopt more energy efficient policies. For example, the report finds that by shifting to ‘hyperscale operators’ that data center energy consumption would actually drop by as much as 45 percent by 2020.
Hyperscale is the practice of data centers for deploying massive numbers of virtual servers using generic off-the-shelf computing equipment. The approach tries to maximize the usage of hardware resources and reduces physical space, cooling and power requirements. Cloud Computing vendors are best positioned to deploy hyperscale technologies.
The LBNL report found that “the potential for data center services, especially from a global perspective, is still in a fairly nascent stage, and future demand could continue to increase after our current strategies to improve energy efficiency have been maximized. Understanding if and when this transition may occur and the ways in which data centers can minimize their costs and environmental impacts under such a scenario is an important direction for future research.”