Global electronics power consumption could treble by 2030

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has claimed surging demand for electronics gadgets and computers over the next two decades will see their total consumption of energy treble to 1700TWh.

At the launch of a book that analyses the likely growth in consumer electronics, Gadgets and Gigawatts, IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka claimed improvements in energy efficiency “are likely to be overshadowed by the rising demand for technology in OECD and non-OECD countries”.

The IEA study predicted that in the next seven months, the number of people using a personal computer will pass the one billion mark. Electronic devices currently account for 15 per cent of household electricity consumption but their share is rapidly rising.

“This increase up to 1700TWh is equivalent to the current combined total residential electricity consumption of the United States and Japan,” Tanaka claimed. “It would also cost households around the world $200bn in electricity bills and require the addition of approximately 280GW of new generating capacity between now and 2030.”

By moving to the most efficient technologies and processes, the increase in energy consumption by consumer electronics and IT equipment could be cut to less than 1 per cent per annum through 2030, according to the IEA report. This would require only a 20GW increase in generating capacity.

To deliver more efficient systems, the report said hardware and software work together more effectively and that governments need to drive these efforts.

Work is underway in the European Union and the US to encourage manufacturers to improve the efficiency of electronic products. The US Environmental Protection Agency will put into action version 5.0 of its Energy Star specification for power-efficient personal computers. The latest version calls on manufacturers to cut the amount of power consumed when PCs are idling.

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