Data centers energy consumption: Google’s take

The data center industry is energy-intensive. Its consumption has risen in recent years because of the growing number of users of digital services – also due to the pandemic – and the development of artificial intelligence. As written by Mark Bergen in an article on Bloomberg, the electricity demand of Google’s data centers alone is estimated to exceed that of the state of Maine (USA). Indeed, Google’s data centers require annually 15 million megawatt-hours (million MWh) to operate, while Maine’s electricity demand is 12 million MWh, as shown in the figure below. If we add up the annual electricity consumption of the world’s four most energy-demanding cloud-service operators, that is Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, we obtain 62 million MWh, which is close to the electricity consumption necessary to light the houses of all Americans (62 million MWh).
The current priorities of big digital operators seem actually to be the reduction of energy consumption by making data centers as efficient as possible, as well as the increasing use of renewable energy. Their aim is to make their business increasingly sustainable while reducing energy purchasing costs. One of the companies that are doing more on this front is probably Google. In this article on Bloomberg, you can read about an interesting interview with Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google and its parent Alphabet Inc., who presents Google’s strategy to reduce its environmental impact.

Maine electricity consumption is for 2019; all other figures are for 2020.
Source: Company sustainability reports; Energy Information Administration