Electricity demand from data centers, AI seen doubling by 2026


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According to the latest report from International Energy Agency, global electricity demand from data centers, cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence could more than double over the next three years, equivalent to Germany’s entire power needs.

There are over 8,000 data centers in the world, with about 33% in the US, 16% in Europe and nearly 10% in China, with more planned. In Ireland, where data centers are developing rapidly, the IEA predicts the sector to consume 32% of the country’s total electricity by 2026 compared to 17% in 2022. Ireland currently has 82 centers; 14 are under construction and 40 more are approved.

The report found that overall global electricity demand is expected to see a 3.4% increase until 2026. However, this increase will be more than covered by renewables, such as solar, wind, and hydro, and record-high nuclear power.

Low-emissions sources are expected to account for almost half of the electricity generation globally by 2026, rise from under 40% in 2023. This includes 9 million battery electric vehicles and 11 million heat pumps in Europe.

Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said, “The power sector now produces more CO2 emissions than any other in the world economy, so it’s encouraging that the rapid growth of renewables and a steady expansion of nuclear power are together on course to match all the increase in global electricity demand over the next three years.”

The global intensity of emissions from power generation, or the amount of CO2 produced per unit of energy, is expected to decline by an average of approximately 3.5% per year through 2026, said the IEA.

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