China’s Internet data power usage to surge through 2023

China is the world’s biggest energy consumer and producer of climate-warming greenhouse gas. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

China’s Internet data power usage to surge through 2023

  • Soaring power consumption from Internet data centers is expected to result in higher carbon dioxide emissions from the China’s coal-fired power plants
  • The sector was responsible for around 99 million tons of CO2 last year

SHANGHAI: China’s burgeoning Internet data sector will increase its power consumption by two-thirds by 2023, putting further pressure on the country’s plans to curb smog and carbon emissions, according to a study published on Monday.
China, the world’s biggest energy consumer and producer of climate-warming greenhouse gas, is in the middle of a program aimed at upgrading its economy, easing its dependence on old polluting sectors like steel, and cleaning up its mostly coal-fired energy system.
Big data is set to play an increasing role in supplying cleaner electricity, especially in the creation of decentralized “smart grid” systems, but it is also becoming one of the biggest consumers of power in China and elsewhere.
According to the study by environmental group Greenpeace and the North China Electric Power University, soaring power consumption from Internet data centers is expected to result in higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the country’s coal-fired power plants.
The sector was responsible for around 99 million tons of CO2 last year, and extra efforts need to be made to encourage firms to source power from renewable sources to prevent that figure from spiralling higher, the study said.
“Power market reforms and rapid growth in wind and solar power have created unprecedented opportunities for China’s Internet giants to procure clean energy,” said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Ye Ruiqi.
Power consumption from data centers reached 161 terawatt-hours (TWh) last year, 2.35% of China’s total, and it is set to rise to 267 TWh in the next five years, more than Australia’s total consumption from all sources in 2018, the study forecast.
The study said China was home to 2.7 million server racks, with the sector expanding at a rate of around 30% a year. The sector’s CO2 emissions could reach 163 million tons by the end of 2023, but that could be cut by 16 million tons if its renewable intake is increased from 23% to 30%.
“Twenty years from now, it is possible that data centers and big data will account for a third of power consumption, three times as much as electric vehicles,” said Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Chief Innovation Officer of Schneider Electric, which works with big Internet and technology companies in the United States and China.
“It is going to consume a lot of electricity but that doesn’t mean it will be less sustainable — many of the players are thinking about how to innovate,” he said.


British Airways burning through cash, CEO urges unions to engage

Updated 04 June 2020

British Airways burning through cash, CEO urges unions to engage

  • Job losses necessary as cash reserves of IAG, British Airways’ parent company, would not last forever

LONDON: The boss of British Airways said its parent company IAG was burning through $223 million a week and could not guarantee its survival, prompting him to urge unions to engage over 12,000 job cuts.
British Airways came under heavy attack from lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, who accused it of taking advantage of a government scheme to protect jobs while at the same time announcing plans to cut its workforce by 28 percent.
Planes were grounded in March due to coronavirus restrictions, forcing many airlines to cut thousands of staff as they struggle without revenues. Airlines serving Britain now face an additional threat from a 14-day quarantine rule.
In an internal letter to staff seen by Reuters, Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways said the job losses were necessary as IAG’s cash reserves would not last forever and the future was one of more competition for fewer customers.
BA also wants to change terms and conditions for its remaining workers to give it more flexibility by, for example, making all crew fly both short and long-haul.
Cruz said IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, was getting through $223 million a week, meaning that it could not just sit out the crisis. The group had €10 billion of liquidity at the end of April.
“BA does not have an absolute right to exist. There are major competitors poised and ready to take our business,” Cruz said in the letter.
He urged two unions which represent cabin crew and other staff, GMB and Unite, to join in discussions to mitigate proposed redundancies. Pilots union BALPA is “working constructively” with the airline, he added.
Cruz also joined other airline bosses in criticizing Britain’s quarantine rule, due to come into effect on June 8, calling it “another blow to our industry.”