Digitalisation

Making energy systems more connected, efficient, resilient and sustainable


Introduction

Stunning advances in data, analytics and connectivity are enabling a range of new digital applications such as smart appliances, shared mobility, and 3D printing. Digitalised energy systems in the future may be able to identify who needs energy and deliver it at the right time, in the right place and at the lowest cost.

Digitalisation is already improving the safety, productivity, accessibility and sustainability of energy systems. But digitalisation is also raising new security and privacy risks. It is also changing markets, businesses and employment. New business models are emerging, while some century-old models may be on their way out.

Policy makers, business executives and other stakeholders increasingly face new and complex decisions, often with incomplete or imperfect information. Adding to this challenge is the extremely dynamic nature of energy systems, which are often built on large, long-lived physical infrastructure and assets.

Global trends in internet traffic, data centre workloads and data centre energy use, 2015-2021

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Huge strides in energy efficiency have helped to limit electricity demand growth from data centres and transmission networks

As the world becomes increasingly digitalised, data centres and data transmission networks are emerging as an important source of energy demand, each accounting for about 1% of global electricity demand. Despite exponential growth in demand for these services, huge strides in energy efficiency have helped to limit electricity demand growth. Sustained efforts by the ICT industry to improve energy efficiency, as well as government policies to promote best practices, will be critical to keep energy demand in check over the coming decades.