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Title: Data center growth in the United States: Decoupling the demand for services from electricity use

Abstract

Data centers are energy intensive buildings that have grown in size and number to meet the increasing demands of a digital economy. This paper presents a bottom-up model to estimate data center electricity demand in the United States over a 20 year period and examines observed and projected electricity use trends in the context of changing data center operations. Results indicate a rapidly increasing electricity demand at the turn of the century that has significantly subsided to a nearly steady annual electricity use of about 70 billion kWh in recent years. While data center workloads continue to grow exponentially, comparable increases in electricity demand have been avoided through the adoption of key energy efficiency measures and a shift towards large cloud-based service providers. Alternative projections from the model illustrate the wide range in potential electricity that could be consumed to support data centers, with the US data center workload demand estimated for 2020 requiring a total electricity use that varies by about 135 billion kWh, depending on the adoption rate of efficiency measures during this decade. While recent improvements in data center energy efficiency have been a success, the growth of data center electricity use beyond 2020 is uncertain, asmore » modeled trends indicate that the efficiency measures of the past may not be enough for the data center workloads of the future. The results show that successful stabilization of data center electricity will require new innovations in data center efficiency to further decouple electricity demand from the ever-growing demand for data center services.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Energy Analysis & Environmental Impacts Division
  2. Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL (United States). McCormick School of Engineering
  3. Koomey Analytics, Burlingame, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1494097
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 13; Journal Issue: 12; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
Publisher:
IOP Publishing
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY

Citation Formats

Shehabi, Arman, Smith, Sarah J., Masanet, Eric, and Koomey, Jonathan. Data center growth in the United States: Decoupling the demand for services from electricity use. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaec9c.
Shehabi, Arman, Smith, Sarah J., Masanet, Eric, & Koomey, Jonathan. Data center growth in the United States: Decoupling the demand for services from electricity use. United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaec9c.
Shehabi, Arman, Smith, Sarah J., Masanet, Eric, and Koomey, Jonathan. Tue . "Data center growth in the United States: Decoupling the demand for services from electricity use". United States. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aaec9c. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1494097.
@article{osti_1494097,
title = {Data center growth in the United States: Decoupling the demand for services from electricity use},
author = {Shehabi, Arman and Smith, Sarah J. and Masanet, Eric and Koomey, Jonathan},
abstractNote = {Data centers are energy intensive buildings that have grown in size and number to meet the increasing demands of a digital economy. This paper presents a bottom-up model to estimate data center electricity demand in the United States over a 20 year period and examines observed and projected electricity use trends in the context of changing data center operations. Results indicate a rapidly increasing electricity demand at the turn of the century that has significantly subsided to a nearly steady annual electricity use of about 70 billion kWh in recent years. While data center workloads continue to grow exponentially, comparable increases in electricity demand have been avoided through the adoption of key energy efficiency measures and a shift towards large cloud-based service providers. Alternative projections from the model illustrate the wide range in potential electricity that could be consumed to support data centers, with the US data center workload demand estimated for 2020 requiring a total electricity use that varies by about 135 billion kWh, depending on the adoption rate of efficiency measures during this decade. While recent improvements in data center energy efficiency have been a success, the growth of data center electricity use beyond 2020 is uncertain, as modeled trends indicate that the efficiency measures of the past may not be enough for the data center workloads of the future. The results show that successful stabilization of data center electricity will require new innovations in data center efficiency to further decouple electricity demand from the ever-growing demand for data center services.},
doi = {10.1088/1748-9326/aaec9c},
journal = {Environmental Research Letters},
number = 12,
volume = 13,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {12}
}

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Figures / Tables:

Table 1 Table 1: Modeled 2010 historic US data center characteristics and projected 2020 characteristics under three different efficiency scenarios.

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Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.