AI Workloads to Double Data Center Power Demand by 2026

Report warns global data center energy consumption share could soar to 20% by 2030

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

June 4, 2024

2 Min Read
Digital rendering of a data center
Getty Images

A PGIM report has warned that share of global electricity consumption used by data centers could soar from 2% today to more than 20% by 2030.

Data centers use massive amounts of power to run and cool their servers. The Fueling the Future report, suggests global data center power consumption will more than double by 2026, consuming the same amount of electricity as Japan.

According to the report, factors increasing data center energy demands include intensive workloads for training large language models.

“The exponentially increasing demand for computational capacity to power the training of large language models… will have profound implications for data centers and may be one of the most overlooked aspects of the energy transition,” the report said.

PGIM's report found that demand for data center operations is growing in developed countries that are behind in expanding their power infrastructure.

For example, electricity demand from data centers in Ireland is set to double by 2026, accounting for one third of the country’s electricity demand.

PGIM suggests data center operators should look to balance increasing their compute workloads with their ability to source power.

“Data center operators are responding to this challenge in different ways,” the report said. “Some are actively partnering with zero-carbon energy providers to incorporate a dedicated power source into their data center complexes.”

Related:Dell CEO: We Could Need 100X More Data Centers in 10 Years – SXSW 2024

Zero-carbon strategies data centers are employing include partnering with renewable energy providers, like Schneider Electric.

Some sites are looking to hydrogen power, including Microsoft which developed hydrogen fuel cells to replace diesel generators.

For other providers, nuclear energy is the option. AWS, for example, acquired a Talen Energy-owned data center near the Susquehanna nuclear plant in Salem, Pennsylvania, tapping the nearby site for its power.

Small modular nuclear reactors, like those developed by the Sam Altman-backed startup Oklo, could also be installed in or near a data center and provide sustainable power.

“Data center operators… must not only consider how to scale their business models to accommodate the increased computational intensity and demand for training deep neural networks but also where to locate new facilities and how to source abundant and cheap power,” the report said.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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