The UK Daily Telegraph says the internet is already consuming at least 8 per cent of Britain’s power output and this figure is bound to rise. The Press Association (via Yahoo! News) reports:
Britain’s internet demand is expanding at such a rate that it could consume the nation’s entire power supply by 2035, an expert has warned.
Andrew Ellis, professor of optical communications at Aston University, said the success of video-streaming websites such as YouTube and Netflix along with new innovations meant optical fibres could reach their limit within eight years.
Prof Ellis said rationing internet use or charging more so that more cables can be installed may need to be considered, as experts prepare to meet at London’s Royal Society later this month to discuss what can be done to avert a web crisis.
The conference has been called to discuss the two biggest problems facing the internet – its surging power demands and its capacity to carry data.
Prof Ellis said the major telecom operators account for 1% to 3% of national energy consumption – the equivalent of three nuclear power stations – and rising internet demand could consume the nation’s entire power supply by approximately 2035.
“Since we had the first modem, the capacity people have been able to achieve has been growing exponentially, doubling every two years,” he said.
“We can’t get much more capacity in one fibre, and there have been signs of slowing since 2010.
“If we want to continue to have better and better communication, we’re going to have to install more capacity.
“It is likely there will be some sort of demand management.
“One way is rationing and another way is charging or taxation of service providers.”
The Royal Society meeting will take place on May 11.
Comment: Britain is already pushing the limits of its electricity generation capacity. Building more wind turbines won’t solve this.