As everyone knows, COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have reduced electricity demand and increased demand for data. Especially in countries like Sri Lanka which are dependent on imported coal/diesel for production of electricity, there is a great interest in increasing energy efficiency. The IEA has published an interesting report on energy use by data centers and in data transmission.
Strong growth in demand for data centre services continues to be offset by ongoing efficiency improvements for servers, storage devices, network switches and data centre infrastructure, as well as a shift to much greater shares of cloud and hyperscale data centres.
Hyperscale data centres are very efficient large-scale cloud data centres that run at high capacity, owing in part to virtualisation software that enables data centre operators to deliver greater work output with fewer servers.
The shift away from small, inefficient data centres towards much larger cloud and hyperscale data centres is evident in the shrinking share of data centre infrastructure in total energy demand, given the very low power usage effectiveness (PUE) of large data centres. PUE is a measure of how efficiently a data centre uses energy; the very best hyperscale data centres can have PUE values of around 1.1 (meaning 0.1 kWh used for cooling/power provision for every 1 kWh used for IT equipment).
According to this, the key energy savings come from hyperscale data centers. But laws and policies that privilege data localization will not allow small developing economies to benefit from this.