Inter­pel­la­ti­on Gro­ssen (23.4255): Rapid increa­se in data volu­mes. Mana­ging data volu­mes and ener­gy con­sump­ti­on – need for action?

Inter­pel­la­ti­on Gro­ssen (23.4255): Rapid increa­se in data volu­mes. Mana­ging data volu­mes and ener­gy con­sump­ti­on – need for action?

Sub­mit­ted text

The volu­me of data stored world­wi­de dou­bles every 18 months. This year is the first time that more data has been gene­ra­ted in the last 12 months than has exi­sted world­wi­de sin­ce the begin­ning of huma­ni­ty. This is dri­ving the cons­truc­tion of data cen­ters world­wi­de and also in Switz­er­land. In addi­ti­on to cheap sto­rage space, one dri­ver of the con­stant­ly doubling amount of data is the high level of red­un­dan­cy, i.e. the fact that data is stored mul­ti­ple times. This rai­ses important que­sti­ons in terms of data manage­ment and the asso­cia­ted con­sump­ti­on of resour­ces and energy.

The Fede­ral Coun­cil is reque­sted to ans­wer the fol­lo­wing questions:
1. is the­re, in the view of the Fede­ral Coun­cil need for regu­la­to­ry action in terms of data sto­rage and ener­gy con­sump­ti­on in Switz­er­land? If yes, which one? If not, why?
2. what poten­ti­al does the Fede­ral Coun­cil see in the pos­si­bi­li­ty of regu­lar­ly Clean up data?
3. what opti­ons does the Fede­ral Coun­cil see to coun­ter­act the rapid Increa­se in data volu­me and thus to steer the expan­si­on of fur­ther data cen­ters in Switz­er­land in a sus­tainable direction?

Opi­ni­on of the Fede­ral Coun­cil of 15.11.2023

1. and 2. digi­tal tech­no­lo­gies and digi­ta­lizati­on crea­te added value in all sec­tors of the eco­no­my, inclu­ding the ener­gy sec­tor. While this added value is dif­fi­cult to quan­ti­fy, the ener­gy con­sump­ti­on of the digi­tal infras­truc­tu­re (infor­ma­ti­on and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on tech­no­lo­gies, ICT) requi­red for the gene­ra­ti­on, trans­mis­si­on and sto­rage of data is well docu­men­ted and regulated.

The fede­ral govern­ment has taken various mea­su­res in the area of ener­gy con­sump­ti­on in data cen­ters. Some of the­se are bin­ding. For exam­p­le Mini­mum effi­ci­en­cy requi­re­ments for the pla­cing on the mar­ket of ser­vers and data sto­rage devices as well as power trans­for­mers, air con­di­tio­ning units and ven­ti­la­ti­on systems. Other mea­su­res are vol­un­t­a­ry: the­se include informing and rai­sing awa­re­ness among data cen­ter ope­ra­tors, pro­mo­ting the effi­ci­en­cy label of the Swiss Dat­a­cen­ter Effi­ci­en­cy Asso­cia­ti­on (SDEA) or the sup­port pro­vi­ded by the Swiss Socie­ty of Engi­neers and Archi­tects (SIA) in dra­wing up a stan­dard for data cen­ters. The can­tons also play an important role, as they set the requi­re­ments for the ener­gy effi­ci­en­cy of buildings.

Despi­te the rapid increa­se in the amount of data pro­ce­s­sed, stored or trans­mit­ted, the ener­gy con­sump­ti­on of the enti­re ICT sec­tor (data cen­ters, tele­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons net­works and ICT devices) has fal­len in recent years. increa­sed only slight­ly. Stu­dies show that the glo­bal ener­gy con­sump­ti­on of the enti­re ICT sec­tor grew by 10% bet­ween 2010 and 2020, while the capa­ci­ty uti­lizati­on of data cen­ters and data traf­fic via tele­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons net­works increa­sed by 800% and 1200% respec­tively. This is due to tech­no­lo­gi­cal pro­gress and effi­ci­en­cy gains in the ICT sec­tor. For this rea­son, it is not neces­sa­ry to issue regu­la­ti­ons on data storage.

Mea­su­res in the area of data back­up would be dis­pro­por­tio­na­te, as the ener­gy-saving poten­ti­al is mana­geable and would not justi­fy the neces­sa­ry inter­ven­ti­ons. The Fede­ral Coun­cil does not wish to inter­ve­ne in this area, as this would not bet­ter ful­fill the interpellant’s con­cern (ener­gy savings).

3. the Fede­ral Coun­cil does not curr­ent­ly see any opti­ons for slo­wing down the growth in data volu­mes, and also no rea­son to regu­la­te this area at the pre­sent time. Instead, the fede­ral govern­ment will con­ti­n­ue to stri­ve to tigh­ten the sus­taina­bi­li­ty requi­re­ments for all ICT devices and infrastructures.




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