We usually think of IT as saving energy, as being green. For example, we speak of the substitution of communication for transportation -- teleconferences replacing airplane trips. IT would save energy if all we used IT for was teleconferences, but our appetite for IT is growing rapidly.
This slide was taken from a Network World IT Roadmap talk by Frederic Chanfraou, Senior VP of IT at Schneider Electric. (Schneider is an energy management company).
As you see, the production of data is growing rapidly and the cost of computing is falling rapidly. That leads to increased data center demand, and data centers consume a lot of energy. Chanfraou estimates that IT consumes 4% of our electricity today, and, if we do not increase efficiency, it would be 40% by the year 2030.
The problem goes beyond the data center. How about your home? What percent of your electric bill goes to information processing devices like TV sets, radios, computers, set-top boxes, DVRs, and chargers, as opposed to appliances, heating, lighting, and other uses?