the iternet uses more electricity than…

The Internet’s data centres alone may already have the same CO2 footprint as global air travel. The good news is that many major Internet companies are becoming more energy conscious, and choosing more renewable sources of power for data centre and operations.

Every Google search comes at a cost to the planet. In processing 3.5 billion searches a day, the world’s most popular website accounts for about 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint of the Internet

The more emails we send and archive, television and music we stream, and Google Docs we edit – the more devices, servers, and antennas are needed to satisfy our growing and seemingly limitless hunger for data. The Internet improves the energy efficiency of a lot of non-digital industries. But we are connecting so many people and objects now that by some predictions, global communication technologies will be responsible for more carbon emissions in 2025 than any country except China, India and the United States.

Sustainability should be a bigger priority, especially as the Internet expands into new territory. Cryptocurrency mining is very energy-intensive (could it be as much electricity as Ireland uses?) and has taken on industrial proportions in countries where there are cheap electricity and political favour.


A common convenience like switching lights on by speaking to a digital assistant creates a chain of reactions beyond your home, from one data centre to another, as the information travels back and forth. We rarely consider there is an energy expenditure beyond what shows up on our own bills for electricity and mobile data. Less surprising is that hardware production requires a lot of energy (so many phones and devices) even if it is easier not to think of the blights of e-waste whenever we buy a new gadget.

Absolutely shocking …. and Chalmers Univerity of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden … is now working on a solution.

Image result for Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg logo

You’re smartphone’s pretty small and compact, so it might surprise you to know that the average iPhone requires more power per year than the average refrigerator.

Why haven’t we been told?????!!!

Bryan Walsh points out in Time, the ICT system is power hungry and will keep growing as our devices become ever more powerful and ubiquitous.

“The ICT system derives its value from the fact that it’s on all the time. From computer trading floors or massive data centres to your own iPhone, there is no break time, no off period. (I can’t be the only person who keeps his iPhone on at night for emergency calls because I no longer have a home phone.) That means a constant demand for reliable electricity. … As the cloud grows bigger and bigger, and we put more and more of our devices on wireless networks, we’ll need more and more electricity.”

Photo: Verne Global

Did you know that Iceland is the place for sustainable data centres?

Think of the following: When comparing the carbon emission of training a large AI model to that of the life-cycle carbon emission of an average American car (incl. production and recycling), emissions of the AI model are about five times greater than the car’s at approximately 626,000 to 126,000 in pounds of CO2 equivalent. To relate further to the common citizen, the carbon footprint of a roundtrip flight between New York and San Francisco for one passenger is around 2,000 lbs of CO2. Bitcoin mining is another generous sinner, using 215 kWh of electricity to verify just one transaction.

“I always wondered why somebody don’t do
something about global warming.
Then I realised I am somebody.”
Lily Tomlin

22 thoughts on “the iternet uses more electricity than…

  1. 🙂 This is scary! Worst of all, almost everybody expects that the other person(s) to be able to deal with the internet and have all the tools at their finger tips. That’s totally crazy!
    I think I’ll go back to reading good old books and writing letters with pen and paper, dear Wivi!
    Many duvet hugs xo 🙂

    • Dia, truly scary and I will change my use of the internet so much as I can. Using Google so little as possible. I don’t have a smartphone .. but still, I use my PC. I like pen and paper, always done – but it doesn’t have a spell-check. *smile

  2. Lily is exactly right, isn’t she? I’m sure I’m not alone in never having thought about the impact of using my laptop and smartphone, Vivi. Thanks for the words of warning. I shall rethink my habits. 🙂 🙂

    • I was shocked yesterday when I listen to Swedish TV news, shocked that nobody has informed us earlier … I will change my habits too. I don’t have a smartphone and after this, I will not get one neither, but all internet cost us whatever device we use. On my way to the hospital now … my sorry ass will be looked at. Have a great day, Girlfriend.

  3. Very interesting and thanks for this Vivi. Another way people can help is to get solar panels installed as I did 6 years ago. I charge everything with the electricity I am producing during the day. I also try to only use my vacuum cleaner, dishwasher or washing machine when I am producing my own electricity but of course it doesn’t always work..

    • Yes, we use solar panels a lot on private housing here in Sweden, but a lot of us Swedes lives in apartments – neither I don’t think it helps the server on Iceland … when we use smart phones, laptops and PC’s. But on the other hand every little energy saving helps. I have very low energy usage, live alone and I never leave a room with the light still on. Do you know that the biggest energy users in a home is a micro wave with digital display clock and the printer. That I learned from using the local transport while living in Belfast, they had a chart over house hold energy usage on their buses then. So I unplug my microwave when I don’t use it. But on the other hand … so I use Google a lot, so I have to get my head around that. I don’t have a smart phone – the new model of NOKIA 3310, only rings and I can text. Love it. When I worked the mobile phone was glued to my ear 24/7 – so nice to now have life back.

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