Internet hub Frankfurt struggles to reduce energy use as online data volumes skyrocket
The city of Frankfurt is struggling to reduce its energy use as the growth in internet data traffic boosts power demand in Germany's most important computing centre, Christoph Manus writes for the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. The city's final energy consumption has increased by 0.6 percent since 1990, and besides the influx of new residents this is primarily due to the computing centres, which used 1,037 gigawatt hours in 2017 - more than all of the city's households taken together, Manus writes. However, emissions in the service sector, in which the computing centres are included, have fallen by 18 percent since 1990, he adds. Rosemarie Heilig, Frankfurt's department head for environment, said a strategy was needed to keep the "skyrocketing power demand" for video streaming services, clouds and other internet-based services in check. She said cooling with water instead of air and using waste heat for household heating would be possible pathways for reducing the computing centres' impact.
The internet exchange point DE-CIX in Frankfurt is one of the most busy exchange points in the world in terms of data volumes. According to science magazine Nature, the worldwide energy demand of information technology will continue to grow substantially throughout the next decade and might consume up to one fifth of global electricity by 2030.The growing prevalence of images and videos online is among the main reasons for the internet's rapidly rising energy demand.