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Tim Miles is Associate Director on the IT Team in Manufacturing and Services’ Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce and covers the U.S. software and IT services industries. He and his colleagues work with other ITA units and U.S. Government agencies on domestic and trade policy issues that affect the U.S. IT sector and provide counseling to U.S. IT exporters, especially small and medium-sized companies.
Information and communications technology (ICT) has become a significant source of energy consumption. ICT equipment now makes up about 5.3 percent of global electricity use and more than 9 percent of total U.S. electricity demand. The International Energy Agency (a unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris) predicts that the energy consumed by ICT worldwide will double by 2022 and increase three-fold by 2030 to 1,700 tera (trillion) watt hours. This will equal the current combined residential electricity use of the United States and Japan and will require the addition of nearly 280 giga (billion) watts of new generating capacity over the next twenty years, presenting a great challenge to electric utilities throughout the world.
On the other hand, ICT also enables greater energy efficiency. It has played and will continue to play a critical role in reducing energy waste and increasing energy efficiency throughout the economy. U.S. businesses have realized that the rising cost of energy is a pressing issue and have begun to invest in Green ICT.
The goal of Green ICT is to increase environmental sustainability throughout the entire ICT life-cycle along the following four complimentary paths:
Green use — reducing the energy consumption of computers and other information systems as well as using them in an environmentally sound manner
Green disposal — refurbishing and reusing old computers and properly recycling unwanted computers and other electronic equipment
Green design — designing energy-efficient and environmentally sound components, computers, servers, cooling equipment, and data centers
Green manufacturing — manufacturing electronic components, computers, and other associated subsystems with minimal impact on the environment
The adoption of Green ICT principles and practices in industry can help U.S. manufacturers become more cost competitive and contribute to reducing our nation’s energy dependence. Energy-efficiency studies show that a combination of improved operations, best practices, and state-of-the-art technologies can bring significant energy and electricity cost savings. For example, employing simple power management techniques, by adjusting settings to “standby or sleep” mode when personal computers or printers are inactive during business hours, can achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in electricity consumption and result in average savings of $50 per year for each PC. This means that power management of the 108 million desktop PCs in U.S. organizations could net around $5.4 billion.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce (OTEC) participated in a session on Green IT at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s National Conference in Orlando on May 5th. OTEC’s Green IT presentation focuses on the impact that IT has on energy consumption and the role of Green IT in energy-efficiency and carbon abatement. It also provides a review of best practices and examples of the energy and cost savings that can be achieved through Green IT. Click here for the presentation.