The IT industry must adopt energy efficiency technologies over the next decade to stay profitable in the face of limits on carbon emissions, according to a new report.
According to the 18-month analysis by the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID) in Singapore and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, the ICT industry in the US is on course to grow its carbon emissions at twice the rate of its contributions to gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2009, the economic output of the ICT industry per kilogram of CO2 emitted was around $2.83, but by 2020 this could fall to around $1.06 if a business-as-usual approach is taken.
“In the face of growing global concerns over greenhouse carbon emissions, the key for the industry is finding new technologies that deliver more performance for each kilogram of CO2 emitted,” says computer scientist Krishna Palem.
The researchers looked different devices in use, how much energy they use and how that consumption will be affected by growth in demand.
Although the items in question, like PCs, laptops, smart phones and games consoles, do not emit CO2 per se, the researchers looked at the electricity used to power them and factored in the potential effects of cleaner production in future.
The study calculates that emissions related to PCs and laptops, which currently account for around 48.5% of global ICT emissions, could quadruple by 2020, while those arising from data centres, games consoles and mobile phones could triple.
“The industry is headed for a brick wall if limits are placed on CO2 emissions,” says co-author of the study, Chris Bronk. “Green innovation will be absolutely essential for ICT profitability.”
For further information:
New services could help data centres cut energy use by half (6-Jul)
EPA launches Energy Star label for data centres (8-Jun)
International agreement on efficiency metric for data centres (7-Apr)
Google invests $1 million in energy efficient data centre research (5-Feb)
12 October 2010