Data Center

Artificial Intelligence Use to Impact Data Center Power Demands

Global data center electricity demand will more than double by 2026.   June 6, 2024

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

As more organizations move towards a digital future, data centers are becoming more vital for facility operations. In addition to that, reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions will be tied into increased data center use.  

Combining these factors will increase the energy demands for data centers. In fact, global data center electricity demand will more than double by 2026, according to the International Energy Agency.  

The U.S. national outlook could mirror the global outlook; however, this is highly uncertain, according to a recent report from EPRI. A key uncertainty that could alter the path of data center load growth is the increased use of generative AI. Due to the uncertainty around AI’s usage, the adoption rate of the technology will be the ultimate influencer for either a lower or higher data center power demand than the global outlook. 

Early applications were estimated to need around 10 times the amount of electricity. For example, a simple Google search would require 0.3 watt-hours compared to 2.9 watt-hours for ChatGPT to respond to a user prompt.  

This report says that the creation of original music, photos and videos based upon these prompts could require even more power. It also notes that with roughly 5.3 billion global internet users, the continued adoption of AI tools could lead to a shift in power needs. 

EPRI’s report highlights three vital strategies to support rapid data center expansion: 

  1. Work on improving efficiencies and increasing flexibility for data centers. 
  2. Maintain close coordination and communication between electric companies and data center developers when it comes to power requirements, timing, flexibility, electric supplies and delivery constraints. 
  3. Develop better modeling tools to chart out the five to 10 plus year grid investments needed to anticipate and accommodate growth while not negatively affecting other customers. Additionally, find strategies for maintaining grid reliability with this larger, more novel demands. 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 


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