Sustainable computing is integral to China’s digital development strategy

China commits to its greening and digital obligations with two major projects in the computing power and big data industries.

China Flag on the table

A report released by China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology presented a mapping of the country’s development plans for green computing, also known as sustainable computing. In its release during China’s first Green Computing Power Conference held in Hohhot City on 1-3 July, the report underscored the aim of green computing to maximise energy efficiency and to minimise the environmental impact of designing computer chips, systems and software. The Hohhot City is integral to the initiative as it will act as the hub where computing resources from the east will be funnelled to the country’s west. The area is usually temperate year-round and houses 57 percent of the nation’s wind energy and 21 percent of its solar energy.

Although the green computing programme is in its initial stages, it has already registered significant gains. In 2022, the application of sustainable computing in the city of Hohhot resulted in the city consuming only half of its usual electricity rate. China is second only to the US in terms of its computing power consumption rate, which at the end of 2022 reached 180 EFlops, with an annual growth rate of 30% and a storage capacity exceeding a trillion gigabytes. The report estimates that this 1.8 trillion yuan (US$ 260 billion) industry will generate a 3-4 fold return on investment, stimulating a multiplier effect for the country’s GDP and societal digital transformation.

China seeks to implement its greening projects hand in hand with its digital projects, two key trends Chairman of KPMG Asia Pacific and China, Tao Kuangchun, endorses as connected and of dire need. In keeping with the country’s strategic plan for 2021-2025, its big data industry will surpass 3 trillion yuan (US$ 474 billion) by the end of the period. The government has already approved the construction of 8 national computing labs and ten national data centres. 

China’s objective is to not surpass carbon emissions targets predicted for 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.