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Data centres & networks

As the world becomes increasingly digitalised, data centres and data transmission networks are emerging as an important source of energy demand.

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Key findings

Global trends in internet traffic, data centres workloads and data centre energy use, 2010-2020

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Huge strides in energy efficiency have helped limit electricity demand growth from data centres and data transmission networks

Global internet traffic surged by more than 40% in 2020 as a result of increased video streaming, video conferencing, online gaming and social networking. This growth comes on top of rising demand for digital services over the past decade: since 2010, the number of internet users worldwide has doubled, while global internet traffic has expanded 15-fold. Global data centre electricity use in 2020 was 200-250 TWh, or around 1% of global final electricity demand, and data transmission networks consumed 260-340 TWh in 2020, or 1.1‑1.4% of global electricity use. Despite exponential growth in demand for these services, rapid improvements in energy efficiency have helped to limit electricity demand growth. Sustained efforts by the ICT industry to improve energy efficiency, as well as government policies to promote best practices, will be essential to curb energy demand and emissions growth over the next decade.