The Internet may have changed our lives, but it takes a lot of energy

But that’s just an estimate, and the internet has grown exponentially since 2011. Some recent numbers are a little more “damaging”.

How much electricity does the internet use?

The previous estimate is on the “leaner” side of many estimates you can ironically find on the internet. Some others give more revealing estimates of the internet’s total energy use, which ranges from about 200 to 400 terawatt hours per year.

If true, that’s roughly equivalent to the energy consumption of Argentina or the Netherlands.

The construction of the hardware alone is energetically expensive.

As we’ve seen, most of this energy is consumed by data centers, which are responsible for storing, processing, and transmitting digital information, and the infrastructure that connects them (like cables, routers, and switches). In addition, energy is consumed by devices such as smartphones, smart devices, laptops and tablets that access the Internet, as well as the manufacture and disposal of these devices.

But the direct energy consumption is not the only “cost” of the Internet. All of these computers, cables, and peripherals must also be made of physical material. Raw materials and, of course, energy are used for this.

Trying to estimate this energy consumption in addition to the daily operation of the Internet is likely never to be accurately estimated. However, even a single computer can use a surprising amount of power.

The amount of energy and raw materials required to build a computer can vary depending on the type and size of the computer and the manufacturing process used. In general, building a computer requires a significant amount of energy and raw materials.

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The production of a computer involves several steps, each of which consumes energy and raw materials. The mining of raw materials such as metals, plastics and glass is energy-intensive. The production of microprocessors and other electronic components also requires a lot of energy.

The assembly of these components into a finished product also consumes energy. The total energy consumption during the production process of a computer is estimated to be between 3,010 and 4,340 MJ per computer.

In terms of raw materials, a personal computer typically contains around 1.5 kg of plastic, 0.75 kg of glass and 0.4 kg of metals such as aluminium, copper and gold.

It is important to note that the computer industry is constantly evolving and the energy and resource consumption involved in manufacturing computers is also changing. For example, many companies are now using more energy-efficient manufacturing processes and recycling materials to reduce the environmental impact of building computers.

It is difficult to estimate the exact number of PCs connected to the Internet worldwide, as new computers are constantly being connected and others disconnected. In addition, the number of PCs can vary significantly by region, with more developed countries having a higher density of connected devices.

However, as of 2022, there are estimated to be around five billion internet users worldwide. If we assume that most, if not all, are real people and most access the internet via PCs and/or smartphones, we can get an idea of ​​the amount that is likely to be used worldwide.

This number is expected to increase as more people gain access to the internet and the technology becomes more affordable and widely available.

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With around several thousand megajoules of energy each one has to build up, that’s quite a significant amount to get computers to “join” people on the Internet.

The Internet may have changed our lives, but it takes a lot of energy

Computers cost energy and materials before they are even connected to the internet for the first time.

It is also worth noting that in addition to PCs, many other connected devices such as smartphones, tablets and other IoT devices are connected to the Internet, increasing the total number of connected devices.

Great, but what about WiFi?

How much energy does WiFi use?

For most of us, the way to connect to the internet is usually through a Wi-Fi connection. So you may be wondering. How much energy is consumed by these grids?

The energy consumption of a Wi-Fi network can vary depending on several factors, e.g. B. the number of devices connected to the network, the type of devices used and the specific energy efficiency of the devices. However, on average, a Wi-Fi router consumes around 5-20 watts of power.

It is important to note that this estimate is based on the power consumption of the router and does not include the power consumption of the devices connected to the network. The energy consumption of the devices depends on factors such as the power consumption of the device and the time it is connected to the network.

The Internet may have changed our lives, but it takes a lot of energy

How much energy does WiFi use?

Estimating the total number of WLAN networks worldwide is also difficult, as new networks are constantly being set up and others shut down. Additionally, the number of Wi-Fi networks can vary significantly by region, with more developed countries having a higher density of Wi-Fi networks.

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However, it is estimated that by 2022 there will be around 27 billion Wi-Fi connected devices worldwide. This number is expected to increase as more devices become Wi-Fi enabled and Internet access becomes more widely available.

It’s also worth noting that this number represents only the currently active and used Wi-Fi networks and does not include inactive or unused networks. In addition, this number includes both private and public Wi-Fi networks.

In any case, it’s also worth mentioning that the energy consumption of Wi-Fi networks can be reduced by using energy-efficient devices such as routers with Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) capability, which can automatically switch off when not in use. In addition, you can reduce energy consumption by disconnecting unused devices, putting your router to sleep, and updating your router and devices with the latest software to improve energy efficiency.