Data Centers’ Electricity Use Could Surge to 9% by 2030: EPRI Report

Data centers may consume up to 9 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States by the end of this decade, more than doubling their current consumption levels, according to a report released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). This surge is driven by significant investments from technology companies in expanding their computing infrastructure.
Aligned data centersThe EPRI, a U.S.-based research organization funded by energy and government entities, indicated that the annual growth rate of electricity use by the data center industry could range from 3.7 percent to 15 percent through 2030.

This variability depends on the adoption pace of technologies such as generative artificial intelligence (AI), which is a key factor in the current expansion of data centers, and the energy efficiency of new facilities.

Essential strategies:

# Improve data center efficiency and flexibility.

# Coordinate closely between data center developers and utilities regarding power needs, timing, flexibility, and delivery constraints.

# Develop better modeling tools to anticipate and accommodate data center growth without affecting grid reliability.

Data centers, alongside the expansion of manufacturing and the electrification of transportation, are revitalizing the U.S. electricity sector, which has experienced two decades of stagnant growth.

These centers demand substantial power for high-intensity computing and cooling systems, with a new large data center consuming the equivalent electricity needed to power 750,000 homes, based on various energy company earnings reports this year, the report said.

The potential doubling of power usage by data centers could strain the national electric grid, possibly leading to higher power bills and outages.

The analysis looked at regional impacts of increased AI power demand. An estimated 80 percent of the national data center load in 2023 was concentrated in 15 states, led by Virginia and Texas. Demands for highly reliable power, requests for power from new, non-emitting generation sources, and short lead times for connection — of two years or less — can create local and regional electricity supply challenges.

Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2022, the data center industry has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sectors globally. Initially, ChatGPT searches required about ten times the electricity of typical Google searches. The increasing use of generative AI for creating movies and music is expected to further escalate power demands, the EPRI noted.

With 5.3 billion internet users worldwide, the widespread adoption of these AI tools could significantly increase power requirements. The institute recommended enhancing data center energy efficiency and investing more in the electric grid to manage this growth effectively.

Currently, approximately 80 percent of the U.S. data center load is concentrated in 15 states, with Virginia and Texas being the primary hubs, according to the EPRI report.

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