Gauthier Roussilhe has specialized in the environmental footprint of the digital sector for 5 years, and is certainly among the most knowledable people I have been lucky to chat with about these issues. He is currently doing a PhD at the RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) to explore which digital infrastructures and services are compatible with a world stabilized at +2°C. I started our chat by asking Gauthier about the electricity impact of data centers.
Global figures are not reliable. We need to look at a country-level basis.
“I don’t know what it’s like in Ireland but in France between now and 2050, we have to reduce our final energy consumption by 40%. That’s the framing we have to have in mind when we are analyzing such sectors. You can have all the data centers in Ireland absorbing all the renewable energy capacity that is being put on the grid. So, data centers might have very nice environmental reports, lowering the carbon intensity of the electricity mix but now allowing other actors to get this renewable energy, so it becomes a zero-sum game.”
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