Ever-increasing internet use is causing a drain on energy resources and threatens the future of Google and YouTube, according to experts.
They warn that as people become more reliant on computers and search engines, more power will be required to run websites which could lead to power cuts which cost millions of pounds in lost business every hour.
Scientists estimate that with more than 1.5 billion people online around the world, the energy demands of the internet are increasing by more than 10 per cent each year.
And with the recession taking its toll on the computer industry through falling advertising revenues, many online companies will not be able to cope with the extra costs.
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‘In an energy-constrained world, we cannot continue to grow the footprint of the internet … we need to rein in the energy consumption,’ said Subodh Bapat, vice-president at Sun Microsystems, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of web servers.
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He said that the costs of running the web servers and data centres that store online information are rising during a time when the industry’s profits are suffering.
‘We need more data centres, we need more servers. Each server burns more watts than the previous generation and each watt costs more,’ he told the Guardian.
‘If you compound all of these trends, you have the perfect storm.’
One website which is thought to be suffering the most is YouTube. Now the world’s third-biggest website, it offers online videos, but it requires a heavy subsidy from its owner Google.