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On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030

Anders S. G. Andrae () and Tomas Edler ()
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Anders S. G. Andrae: Huawei Technologies Sweden AB, Skalholtsgatan 9, 16494 Kista, Sweden
Tomas Edler: Huawei Technologies Sweden AB, Skalholtsgatan 9, 16494 Kista, Sweden

Challenges, 2015, vol. 6, issue 1, 1-41

Abstract: This work presents an estimation of the global electricity usage that can be ascribed to Communication Technology (CT) between 2010 and 2030. The scope is three scenarios for use and production of consumer devices, communication networks and data centers. Three different scenarios, best, expected, and worst, are set up, which include annual numbers of sold devices, data traffic and electricity intensities/efficiencies. The most significant trend, regardless of scenario, is that the proportion of use-stage electricity by consumer devices will decrease and will be transferred to the networks and data centers. Still, it seems like wireless access networks will not be the main driver for electricity use. The analysis shows that for the worst-case scenario, CT could use as much as 51% of global electricity in 2030. This will happen if not enough improvement in electricity efficiency of wireless access networks and fixed access networks/data centers is possible. However, until 2030, globally-generated renewable electricity is likely to exceed the electricity demand of all networks and data centers. Nevertheless, the present investigation suggests, for the worst-case scenario, that CT electricity usage could contribute up to 23% of the globally released greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.

Keywords: communication networks; consumer devices; data centers; data traffic; electricity usage; electricity efficiency; electricity intensity; greenhouse gases; voice traffic (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A00 C00 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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