IEA calls for action to make devices energy-efficient

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called on governments to rein in soaring power consumption of cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices.

Without new measures, energy consumed by ICT and consumer electronic products will double by 2022 and increase threefold by 2030, the agency warns in a new study.

Releasing the report, IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka said that despite likely improvements in the energy efficiency of devices, “these savings are likely to be overshadowed by the rising demand for technology.”

He said that by 2030 gadgets and appliances would consume 1700 Terawatt hours (TWh) in energy - “equivalent to the current combined total residential electricity consumption of the United States and Japan.”

The IEA study said power consumption by devices could be cut by more than half through the use of the technology and processes which are already available.

This would slow growth in consumption to less than 1% per annum through 2030, representing a cut in consumer energy bills by $130 billion in 2030 and the avoidance of 260 GW in additional power generation capacity – more than Japan’s current electricity capacity.

“Many mobile devices are already far more efficient in their use of power than other devices which run off a main electricity supply,” said Tanaka. “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.”

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

“To deliver these savings, strong public policies are needed,” Tanaka said.