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AI energy demands could slow its adoption

As fast as the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is moving, physical infrastructure and essential services may just stunt its growth.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 17 Oct 2023
AI energy demands could slow its adoption
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With AI being adopted across pretty much all industries at such a fast pace, resulting in the need for more and more data centres, one major company has warned that essential services and critical infrastructure providers such as energy services may not be able to support it.

Approximately 4 per cent of Australia’s energy usage comes as a result of data centres. However, with industries quick to adopt AI, that number is expected to skyrocket, with Schneider Electric’s Energy Management Research Centre saying that the workloads created by AI will make up as much as a fifth of the nation’s energy usage by 2028.

Despite its infancy, AI is already taking a major toll on the world’s energy industry. According to Schneider Electric, researchers estimated that making ChatGPT’s GPT-3 used 1,287 megawatt hours of electricity, generating 552 tons of CO2.


“[That is] the equivalent of 123 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year,” said Pankaj Sharma, executive vice-president of the company’s secure power division.

AI is being adopted at a rapid rate, which means data centres and physical infrastructure need to catch up quickly.

According to a survey conducted last year by Global X, 50 per cent of global organisations use AI tools for at least one function.

These AI tools are power-intensive, with applications such as chatbots, autonomous vehicles and search engines proving to be highly taxing for the energy grid.

“AI applications, especially training clusters, are highly computer-intensive and require large amounts of processing power,” said Sharma.

Sharma added that for physical infrastructure to catch up to the needs of the future, data centres will need to prioritise investments in sustainability and energy efficiency.

“As operators design and manage data centres, they need to focus on energy-efficient hardware, such as high-efficiency power and cooling systems, and renewable power sources to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions,” Sharma said in a company blog post.

The need for greater energy efficiency and data requirements for data centres, as AI use grows rapidly, has forced the development of extreme rack power densities through new server and chip technologies. However, several changes still need to be made, such as a shift from air cooling to liquid cooling in data centres.

Looking to set the standard for data centres of the future with less energy and water consumption, Schneider Electric has partnered with Australian specialist property organisation GreenSquareDC and will build a 96-megawatt data centre in Perth. Construction is due to start next year, and more sustainable data centres are planned around the country.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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