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.


Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

Updated 18 October 2019

Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

  • US retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months adding to economy fears

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Thursday as industry data showed a larger than expected increase in US inventories but losses were limited after Britain and the EU announced they had reached a deal on Brexit.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down 37 cents at $59.05 in afternoon London trade while US WTI crude was also down 37 cents, at $52.99.

US crude inventories soared by 10.5 million barrels to 432.5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 11, the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly report showed, ahead of official government stocks data.

Analysts had estimated US crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week.

“US sanctions imposed on Chinese shipping company COSCO are seriously denting demand for imported crude ... This has a profound impact on US crude oil inventories as reflected in last night’s API report,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates.

“US refinery maintenance is not helping to reverse the current trend and further builds in US crude oil inventories can be expected in the next few weeks.”

The US imposed sanctions on COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) and subsidiary COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman & Ship Management for allegedly carrying Iranian oil.

Adding to concerns about the global economy — and therefore oil demand — data from the US showed retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months. Earlier data showed a moderation in job growth and services sector activity.

Nevertheless, Brexit developments helped limit oil’s decline. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain and the EU had agreed a “great” new deal and urged lawmakers to approve it when they meet for a special session at the weekend.

Analysts have said any agreement that avoids a no-deal Brexit should boost economic growth and oil demand.

However, the Northern Irish party whose support Johnson needs to help ratify any agreement, has said that it refused to support the pact.

Hopes of a potential US-China trade deal also supported oil. The commerce ministry in Beijing said China hoped to reach a phased agreement with Washington as early as possible.

But the German government has lowered its 2020 forecast for economic growth to 1 percent from 1.5 percent, the economy ministry said. It said Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was not facing a crisis.