The Thirsty Dragon: China’s ICT Sector Running Dry?

Via China Water Risk, a new report on the rise of AI and the climate risks which amplify existing water risks faced by thirsty data centres:

CWR releases a new report, “China ICT running dry? The rise of AI & climate risks amplify existing water risks faced by thirsty data centres”. The report reveals 4.3mn data centre racks in China consume around 1.3bn m3 today but can rise to >3bn m3 by 2030. This will put pressure on already stressed water resources, especially as the rise of AI & chatbots could see water use surge by a shocking 20x.

For perspective, ~1.3bn m3 is 1.9x the water use for households & services in Tianjin, a city of 13.7mn people… but with data centre growth plus AI, this could explode to more than 500mn people!

Clearly, this doesn’t bode well for China ICT as it is already highly exposed to various water risks. Of the 4.3mn national data centre racks:

  • 46% are located in regions as dry as the Middle East;
  • At least 41% are located in regions that are highly prone to drought while at least 28% are in areas highly prone to floods + at least 1/5 are very prone to both;
  • 56% are located in coastal regions vulnerable to storm surge & sea level rise; and
  • >75% lie in 3 river basins – Yellow, Yangtze & Pearl = vulnerable to basin & regulatory risks.

“For the ICT sector, the time to tackle water risks is now – we must get on top of these before the explosion of AI. China’s ICT giants must take the lead to be “water neutral” or “water positive” like their Silicon Valley counterparts of Meta and Google”, says report author Tan.

This report is the first in CWR’s new 2024 “Accelerated Threat Series” – our response to increasing challenges due to rapid global warning – it includes:

Get on top of these escalating risks – check out the full reportExecutive Summary & Press Release.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 12th, 2024 at 12:19 am and is filed under China.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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