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Data centre water consumption

Reference Type: 

Journal Article

Mytton, David. 2021. “Data Centre Water Consumption.” Npj Clean Water 4 (1): 11.

The information communication technology sector will experience huge growth over the coming years, with 29.3 billion devices expected online by 2030, up from 18.4 billion in 2018. To reliably support the online services used by these billions of users, data centres have been built around the world to provide the millions of servers they contain with access to power, cooling and internet connectivity. Whilst the energy consumption of these facilities regularly receives mainstream and academic coverage, analysis of their water consumption is scarce. Data centres consume water directly for cooling, in some cases 57% sourced from potable water, and indirectly through the water requirements of non-renewable electricity generation. Although in the USA, data centre water consumption (1.7 billion litres/day) is small compared to total water consumption (1218 billion litres/day), there are issues of transparency with less than a third of data centre operators measuring water consumption. This paper examines the water consumption of data centres, the measurement of that consumption, highlights the lack of data available to assess water efficiency, and discusses and where the industry is going in attempts to reduce future consumption.

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