Cloud computing slows energy demand, U.S. says

Ten years ago, power usage at data centers was growing at an unsustainable rate, soaring 24% from 2005 to 2010. But a shift to virtualization, cloud computing and improved data center management is reducing energy demand.

According to a new study, data center energy use is expected to increase just 4% from 2014 to 2020, despite growing demand for computing resources.

Total data center electricity usage in the U.S., which includes powering servers, storage, networking and the infrastructure to support it, was at 70 billion kWh (kilowatt hours) in 2014, representing 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

Based on current trends, data centers are expected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020, becoming nearly flat over the next four years. “Growth in data center energy consumption has slowed drastically since the previous decade,” according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “However, demand for computations and the amount of productivity performed by data centers continues to rise at substantial rates.”

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