Tech gadgets use too much power

PARIS, FRANCE – Manufacturers could cut the energy consumption of electronic devices by more than 50 percent if they chose, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Without such measures, it says, energy use by new devices will triple by 2030.

The Gadgets and Gigawatts study found that if manufacturers used the best currently available technology and processes, it would slow growth in consumption to less than one percent per annum through 2030. The IEA is calling on governments to implement policies to make electronic devices such as televisions, laptops and mobile phones more energy-efficient by setting a maximum energy usage for each device function.

“Many mobile devices are already far more efficient in their use of power than other devices which run off a main electricity supply,” explained Tanaka. “Because extending the battery life of a mobile device is a selling point, manufacturers place an emphasis on designing products which require very little power. This example shows us what can be achieved. Where no such commercial drivers exist, governments must step in to ensure that we make the most of every energy efficiency opportunity.”

The IEA study found that over the next seven months, the number of people using a PC will pass the one billion mark. Electronic devices currently account for 15 per cent of household electricity consumption, but that figure is rapidly rising. Already there are two billion television sets in use around the world, and over half the global population subscribes to a mobile telephone service. The number of external power supplies associated with many electronic devices now exceeds 5.5 billion.

Without new policies, the energy consumed by information and communications technologies as well as consumer electronics will double by 2022 and increase threefold by 2030 to 1,700 Terawatt hours (TWh). This will jeopardise efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Some savings can be achieved through better equipment and components, but the largest improvement would come from making hardware and software work together more effectively to ensure that energy is only used when needed.