The Digital Power Group said in August 2013 that global ICT consumes ~1,500 TWh of electricity annually, ~10% of the world's annual generation. This is the much greater that the 2% number commonly cited six years ago when Vertatique was launched. How did we get from there to here? And, is 10% a credible number?
This is not the first time I have seen the 10% number. It was cited in the promotion for a 2009 green communications conference in Germany. I've asked the source of both these 10% numbers for detailed breakdowns. Let's take a look at what we already know until we hear back.
Information and Communications Technology for Development - ICT4D - has become an explosive force in the developing economies. Much ICT4D is inherently more sustainable than its counterparts in developed countries. This could deteriorate unless Green ICT becomes an explicit part of ICT4D. Now is the time to make that happen.
The line between "devices" and "IT" is quickly fading as these two categories merge. Hospitals are a good example. In the late 20th century, many hospitals had two technology departments: "biomed" and "computers". As biomedical devices have becoming increasingly digital and networked, and as IT moves onto mobile devices, many hospitals have consolidated these operations into a single technology organization. A consequence is that Green ICT embraces medical devices and their infrastructures. Our original 2010 post noted that medical equipment sold into the European Union was exempt from the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, but that would be changing. There is now a firm 2014 date.
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Most Green ICT focuses on hardware. That make sense, because hardware lifecycles encompass everything from environmentally responsible sourcing of its raw materials through energy efficiency of its use to sustainable disposal at its end-of-life. Special utility software such as desktop power-saving plays a central role in Green ICT, but less attention has been given to the application and system software in the gear, itself. Now, projects are looking at how to create more sustainable software.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is emerging as an important mechanism to ensure more sustainable ICT gear. Here is a review of what EPR is and who is implementing it.
The industry has been striving to green data centers for some time. Here are some of pioneers from 2002 through 2009.
Traditional household appliances have become more energy efficient in the past forty years, but households have not. The growing use of electronics plays a major role in the failure to benefit from more efficient appliances.
Mega data centers are booming but operators from Microsoft to the NSA are learning something about the 'bust' side of the equation. It turns out big data centers can be big targets for the tax man.
Much Green ICT focuses on computers: servers in the data center and desktops in the office. Don't forget that disk-based data storage, which can cost an organization $25/GB/month, also offers opportunities. Here's a look at the progress manufacturers and users have been making in recent years to manage data storage's energy consumption. The storage capacity of the United States National Security Agency's (NSA) new data center in Utah is a powerful reminder of the role storage plays in ICT facilities.