The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 and its tsunami had a huge impact on the country's ICT infrastructure, much of which is still being felt by businesses and consumers. Here is an update on the information and insights we have collected about data centers, communications networks, e-devices, and other ICT topics.
Global consulting company Accenture announced in March 2013 that it "…has been awarded a contract to create the strategic plan to help develop the University of Aizu Revitalization Center. The plan includes construction of a technology lab on the university campus as well as support for projects focused on rebuilding Fukushima as a technology leader. Accenture’s plan calls for the lab design to begin this year, with construction expected to be completed in the spring of 2015. When completed, the lab will feature a next generation data center, an efficient, high-performance center that will consume about 40 percent less electricity than traditional data centers." Telecom Asia notes that "The Revitalization Center was established to aid recovery of the area following the [earthquake]." A September release from Accenture announces that the company has been awarded a contract work on the design the ICT laboratory, itself.
Apple has been making in big investment over the best couple of years to make its newest data center 100% powered by renewable energy. It has how announced a similar objective for a new US-based manufacturing facility in Arizona. This should contribute to reducing the embodied CO2e in Apple's products.
Global ICT consumes ~8% of the world's electricity. How does that fit into the big picture of global energy consumption? And is that good or bad for the planet?
We have reported estimates for ICT electricity consumption over Vertatique's lifespan ranging from 2% to 10%. I am comfortable using ~8%, based on our most recent analysis.
Specialty metals recycler Umicore uses grams per tonne of gold to illustrate the potential for urban mining of e-waste.
|Ore||PC Circuit Boards||Cell Phones|
|~5 g/t Au||200-250 g/t Au||300-350 g/t Au|
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.