The Internet Exchange in Frankfurt set a new world record for data throughput on March 10, resulting in more energy usage.
At more than 9.1 Terabits per second, a new sound barrier has been broken–thanks to more people streaming video and searching for information on coronavirus.
Italy had a roughly 70 percent increase in broadband demand and France had a 30 percent increase, CNN reported. In South Korea, online gaming activity jumped 30 percent between March 5 and March 12, while streaming of content from anime sites has doubled.
Save On Energy discovered that the energy produced from the 64 million streams of the third season of Stranger Things is comparable to driving more than 420 million miles and emitting over 189 million kg of CO2. That is the equivalent of driving from Marrakech to Cape Town and back 28,391 times.
Not everyone agrees that streaming is so energy intensive. Experts argue that streaming content is largely hosted locally and doesn’t take much energy to retrieve, reports Mashable. On the other hand, big data, and algorithms, like those used to display different products to different online shoppers, eat up much more computational energy via huge data centers.
Data centres consume 1.5 percent of the total power in the U.S, according to 2007 government data. The move to remote working in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic lessens reliance on enterprise servers, but more on cloud services which requires its own energy-guzzling data centers.
Still, data centres only contribute to 0.3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and take up 1 percent of global energy demand, says Nature. In the broad scheme of things, an increase in both streaming and big data will not have as big an impact as other factors, like a rapid rise in medical waste.