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India’s digital energy consumption to increase at twice the world average growth rate

India’s digital energy consumption is set to increase by 16% every year through 2023. This will be twice the world average growth rate, according to a study.

From now to 2025, the penetration of the mobile internet will increase by 50% and reach 61% of the world’s population. The greater part of the increase (1.75 billion) in new mobile internet users between 2017 and 2025 will come from China (about 350 million new users), India (330 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (280 million).

The study attributed the upsurge in energy consumption in India to the production and adoption of digital technologies, specifically smartphones.

India will continue to be one of the growth engines of the smartphone market during the next few years. The country will witness an increase of more than 500 million from now to 2025, which will account for 22% of the world total, the study said. Up to then, smartphones connections in the country will make up three-quarters of total connections, versus 45% in 2017.

As reported earlier, India plans to launch a programme to deploy commercial 5G networks in 2020 to boost the performance and capacity of existing mobile networks, considering that the 4G networks are making big advances towards general coverage.

Under the Indian government, the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) will free up a total of 605-Megahertz (MHz) spectrum in the 5-Gigahertz (GHz) band for Wi-Fi services. Several spectrum bands for short-range devices and ultra-wideband devices will be made license-exempt.

The digital divide is nonetheless considerable within the country since, in 2017, 71% of the population (that is 950 million people) were not connected to the Internet, and 50% will still remain so in 2025.

The increase in energy consumption (in all sectors) in India is much higher than the world average. The study calculated the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the digital share of the total energy consumption in the country and noted an even higher increase. This was 12% of growth expected per year (between 2017-2023) in India’s digital share of total energy consumption, from 1.3% of the total energy consumption in 2017 to 2.6% in 2023.

The study noted that the digital share of total energy consumption is growing. In 2017 it accounted for 2.6% of the global energy consumption and will represent 4.0% of it in 2023.

The distribution of the energy consumed by digital devices in developing regions, specifically India and Sub-Saharan Africa, is however different from that of the world average: the share of energy consumed to produce devices (mainly smartphones) is 80% whereas the world average is “only” 50%.

Currently, digital consumption globally is polarised. The study said that in 2018 and on average, an inhabitant of the United States owned nearly 10 connected digital peripheral devices and consumed about 140 Gigabytes (GB) of data a month whereas an Indian owned one and consumed 2 GB.

The result of this situation is that the digital carbon footprint of an American is 16 times larger than that of an inhabitant of a developing country and 5 times larger than the world average.

To use digital technologies responsibly and with as little negative environmental effect as possible, the study suggested that individuals should purchase the least powerful devices possible and change them as seldom as possible while reducing superfluous energy consuming uses such as bulky attachments and videos.

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