Can the Energy Demand for Artificial Intelligence Fuel Climate Change?

A request to OpenAI ChatGPT uses almost 10 times the energy a google search does. While AI is helping combat climate change, it will have its own emissions problem as the demand for more applications increases. AI electricity consumption is estimated to double by 2026, driving up both electricity demands and emissions. 

It is easy to view AI as a free and innocuous thing. The truth is that AI uses many computers and uses a lot of energy. In fact, every time you generate an image with AI, it consumes the same energy as fully charging your cellphone. AI might have a lot of potential, but if applications are not designed to be more energy-efficient and if they fail to be fueled by renewable sources – their demands will fuel climate change.

AI has great potential in the fight against climate change and is already being used in many ways like climate adaptations, mitigations, and building waste management systems. Algorithms can help tackle climate change by building more energy efficient buildings, planning transportation routes with lower emissions, and innovating renewable energy technologies.  However, the amount of electricity needed to run AI will only grow with demand, which can lead to a rise in emissions if their electricity comes from a grid that uses fossil fuels.

With the increasing demand of AI and therefore energy, the current limited supply of renewable energy will not be enough, increasing the usage of fossil fuels, and increasing demand for more renewable energy sources. As this demand increases, Canada needs to reevaluate which sectors this AI electricity is worth spending on.

Overall, as the demand for renewable energy is increasing, there will be more incentives to reduce emissions by switching to renewable energy sources. Borrum Energy Solutions offers the Anorra wind turbines and towers for rural communities, small house owners, and cottage owners to let them play a role in reducing emissions and limiting climate change impacts.

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