Gelenbe E, 2023. Electricity Consumption by ICT: Facts, trends, and measurements. ACM Ubiquity, Volume: 2023, Issue: August


ACM Ubiquity, Volume: 2023, Issue: August

Gelenbe E.


This paper considers key issues surrounding energy consumption by information and communication technologies (ICT), which has been steadily growing and is now attaining approximately 10% of the worldwide electricity consumption with a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The perimeter of ICT systems is discussed, and the role of the subsystems that compose ICT is considered.
Data from recent years is used to understand how each of these sub-systems contribute to ICT’s energy consumption. The quantitatively demonstrated positive correlation between the penetration of ICT in the world’s different economies and the same economies’ contributions to undesirable greenhouse gas emissions is also discussed. We also examine how emerging technologies such as 5G, edge computing, and cryptocurrencies are contributing to the worldwide increase in electricity consumption by ICT, despite the increases in ICT efficiency, in terms of energy consumed per bit processed, stored, or transmitted. The measurement of specific ICT systems’ electricity consumption is also addressed, and the manner in which this consumption can be minimized in a specific edge-computing context is discussed.

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