China carbon emissions
Image credit: Wikidata

According to a new report from Greenpeace, and the North China Electric Power University, China’s data centres appear to pose a threat to global decarbonisation, by generating the equivalent of more than three-quarters of the total vehicle carbon emissions generated in the UK in 2018.

According to the report, China’s data centres generated 99 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to environmental damage incurred by approximately 21 million cars, and consumed over  161 TWh of electricity during 2018 – more than the total electricity consumed by Australia in 2018.

China’s data centres sector is the second-largest in the world, and represents 8% of the global market, and is expected to grow by two-thirds by 2025, as the adoption of digital technologies increases, and is predicted to consume up to 260TWh of electricity every year until then.

The root cause? The racks of servers, or rather, the power required to run them, and the critical cooling measures that prevent potential damage to stored data, but consume up-to 80% of total consumption for the facility.

The report goes on to state that despite noted efforts by Chinese companies to improve energy efficiency, further action is needed to limit the country’s carbon emissions from coal-fired generation, which is expected to drop by 39% by 2050.

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The report further calls on data centre companies to “set company-wide renewable energy targets and link them to internal key performance indicators” and support the transition by building “an internal renewable energy team to lead the transition toward renewable energy from within”.

We spoke with Zhang Jie Vice Chairman and General Secretary Investment Association of China, at Asian Utility Week and POWERGEN Asia, about the latest trends and opportunities in China’s energy market, and the country's clean energy transition.

Click here for more great videos that give key insights into the pressing energy transition in Asia.