How the internet use consumes electricity
Most internet traffic goes through data centres – large warehouses filled with equipment that stores and transmits digital information.
Data centres require large amounts of energy to build and run. In addition to manufacturing and construction costs, they require constant air conditioning to prevent equipment overheating.
According to a 2020 International Energy Agency (IEA) report, data centres consume 1% of all global electricity.
Why more data does not mean more energy
Despite sharp increases in demand for internet streaming services, electricity use at data centres remains flat.
This is because data centres have become much more efficient over time. Some require a similar amount of electricity no matter how much data passes through them.
Switching off video for a Zoom call or reducing your Netflix resolution does not save a significant amount of power.
Switch to a green hosting provider
Big internet companies like Google and Facebook already use data centres that get power from renewable sources. They also purchase carbon credits to offset emissions they are not able to eliminate.
Small businesses can switch their website hosting to service providers that do the same.
Most offer a mix of renewable energy and offsets with competitive prices and loading speeds.
Invest in sustainable cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin also require large amounts of electricity. This is because ‘mining’ the currency takes a lot of computer processing power.
Cambridge University estimates this is consuming 0.5% of all global electricity, though it isn’t known how much is coming from renewable sources. Miners often set up in places with low energy prices.
Until June 2021, most of the world’s Bitcoin was mined using Chinese coal and hydroelectric power. The Chinese government has now banned the practice of migrating to regions where power is the cheapest.
To get to net zero businesses must account for their carbon emissions and plan to reduce them. If you plan to invest in cryptocurrency there are sustainable options that are produced using renewable energy.