The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the already powerful trend of digitization. Since the beginning of 2020, an increasing array of activities have been driven online: work (virtual meetings), shopping (online groceries), and entertainment (streaming). These trends add up to more demand for the workhorses of the digital economy — especially data centers, the buildings that house computer, telecommunications, and storage systems. The global data center industry is expected to grow by US$284.44 billion between 2019 and 2023, representing a 17 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to a report by Technavio. PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024 projects data consumed will grow by 2,342 trillion megabytes, representing a 20.9 percent CAGR.
As the sector grows, so will the scrutiny from stakeholders demanding responsible and sustainable growth, because data centers are significant users of electricity and power. In 2018, data centers accounted for about 205 terawatt-hours of electricity