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  • data demand_AAM_28Jan18

    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Energy Research & Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Energy Research & Science, 38, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2018.01.018

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Digitalisation, energy and data demand: The impact of Internet traffic on overall and peak electricity consumption

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Energy Research and Social Science
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)128-137
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date17/02/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Over the last decade, concerns have been raised about increases in the electricity used by information technologies, other consumer electronic devices, data centres, and to a much lesser degree, Internet distribution networks. At the same time, ‘smart’ innovations are widely anticipated to help reduce energy demand across diverse sectors of society. Yet such potential savings, as well as the increasing use of other digital services, are predicated upon continued expansion of digital infrastructures. This paper focuses on the phenomenal growth in Internet traffic, as a trend with important implications for energy demand. It outlines an agenda to better understand how data demand is changing. Drawing on findings from our own research in combination with secondary data analysis, we examine the alignment of peak demand for electricity and data. Peaks in data appear to fall later in the evening, reflecting the use of online entertainment, but this is far from fixed. Overall, the paper argues that a better understanding of how everyday practices are shifting, in concert with the provision and design of online services, could provide a basis for the policies and initiatives needed to mitigate the most problematic projections of Internet energy use.