Incentives need to be put in place for more efficient datacentres to limit unsustainable growth in internet and online services which represents a threat to energy security and emission targets, academics have warned.
A report by the University of Sussex Business School said internet and datacentre demand is one of the fastest growing sectors of electricity consumption, accounting for about 10% of global demand and that is expected to at least double over the next decade.
Datacentres have the fastest-growing carbon footprint within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector but the report said more sustainable designs offer better economies of scale, leverage circular economy concepts, and operate at higher energy efficiency,
Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the Business School, said: “The internet and its digital practices now have potential negative sustainability impacts and without rapid intervention, those impacts threaten to worsen considerably. The global growth in ICT emissions is currently unsustainable, unchecked, and represents a threat to energy security and climate stability.”