Impacts of ICTs on Energy Efficiency

Study: Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Energy Efficiency

The study “Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Energy Efficiency”, was commissioned by the European Commission (European Commission DG INFSO), elaborated by Bio Intelligence Service S.A.S. in collaboration with e5 and the Fraunhofer Institute IZM and published in October 2008.

This comprehensive analysis covers highly relevant issues like assessment of environmental effects and social impacts of ICT, a discussion and quantification of ICT applications enabling energy efficiency in general and particularly through dematerialization. It contains a comprehensive list of key actions which are needed to achieve an Eco-scenario and contributes, thus, to finding and assessing the necessary European policies to fully employ the potential of ICT on the road towards a sustainable Europe and a sustainable global economy. Among the Study Team had been Lutz Günter Scheidt and Sebastian Gallehr (e5) along with members of BIO Intelligence Service and IZM.

The main objective of the study was to assess the potential contribution of various leading-edge technologies based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve the energy efficiency of the EU economy and reduce green house gas emissions in the timescale of 2020. In order to do so, the team collected evidence from existing sources, built on case studies at company and sector levels, and evaluated the effectiveness of ICTs to increase energy efficiency by reducing both its own footprint and by being instrumental in reducing the footprint of all industrial and business activities. The study examine the potential impacts of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) on energy efficiency and the electrical grid in Europe, considering a 2005-2020 outlook. Projections are made using three scenarios: a baseline trend informed by literature, a „business-as-usual“ case in which current trends are static, and an „eco-scenario“ wherein there is a push to deploy ICT-based energy efficiency technologies.

This study was presented at the Side Event „ICTs and Climate Change: finding Solutions“ at the international climate negotiations in Poznań (Poland) (COP 14).

Download of the study „Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Energy Efficiency“ (6MB).
Download of the summary of the study.

Side event at COP14: ICTs and Climate Change: finding Solutions

(See here for the detailed agenda of the side event and and for the documentation of the presentations.)

e5 organized in cooperation with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the International Tele-communications Union (ITU) this Side Event which took place on Wednesday December 10, 2008 at the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznań (Poland). The event was sponsored by GeSi and its member companies. Gudrun Merkle, e5’s Project Manager, was responsible for e5’s part of organization activities as well as for coordination with the collaborating organizations.

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. Founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, ITU now has a membership of 191 countries and over 700 public and private sector companies as well as international and regional telecommunication entities. GeSI is a global partnership of ICT companies that promotes technologies for a sustainable development. Founded in 2001, GeSI, in alliance with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the International Tele-communications Union (ITU), supports companies and institutions across the ICT industry, including manufacturers, network operators, service providers, trade associations and associated organizations connected to the industry.

Through their manufacture, maintenance and use, ICTs currently contribute an estimated 2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But ICTs bear also significant opportunities for emission reductions and energy efficiency savings. The Side event presented not only two new studies on this, but furthermore also the views, proposals and experiences of experts from governments, international organizations and business sectors on how ICTs can not only reduce their own GHG emissions but also enable other sectors to reduce theirs.

The List of Speakers included: Björn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Houlin Zhao (Deputy Secretary-General, ITU), Sebastian Gallehr (CED e5), Ignacio Campino (Deutsche Telekom), Pierre Delforge (Hewlett-Packard), Cristina Bueti (ITU).
We have had the honour that Houlin Zhao, ITU’s Deputy Secretary-General moderated the Side Event in an exceptionally charming, eloquent and insightful way. He reported how widespread ignorance about the potential of ICT for climate protection still is in the sphere of politics. At the climate negotiations, he had been frequently asked why an UN organization dealing with ICT was present at this summit. He reaffirmed that ITU is undertaking important work on how ICTs can help prevent and avert climate change. One of the studies presented at the Side Event was “Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies on Energy Efficiency”, commissioned by the European Commission (European Commission DG INFSO), elaborated by Bio Intelligence Service S.A.S. in collaboration with e5 and the Fraunhofer Institute and published in November 2008. At the Side Event, it was presented by Mr. Shailendra Mugdal, Senior Vice President of BIO Intelligence Service. Of particular interest were the general recommendations from the study to make optimal use of ICT as an enabler: Development of standardised methods to measure environmental performance of ICT-based products and services; improvement and monitoring of statistical data to make efficiency and effectiveness a reality; development of appropriate incentives to encourage the uptake of energy efficient technologies and practices; promotion of public-private partnerships in energy efficiency; provide information and guidelines; development of internet connectivity to facilitate ICT-based solutions; identification of R&D needed in ICT and further support for R&D together with innovation actions.

The other study presented was “SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age” by GeSI and the Climate Group, a report which quantifies the significant contribution that ICT can make to improve energy efficiency and to address climate change. It defines the potential of ICT to drive sustainable change and enable other sectors to create efficiencies that generate growth.

GESI chairman of the board Luis Neves was unable to attend for urgent, unexpected reasons, so the study was presented by Dr. Ignacio Campino, Representative of the Board of Management for Sustainability and Climate Protection of Deutsche Telekom. In the presentation he pointed out that the ICT sector could reduce global emissions by 15% through enabling reductions in other sectors (2020 scenario). At the same time, energy costs could be reduced by 600 billion Euro by ICT’s transformative role in monitoring, optimizing and managing domestic and industrial energy. He exemplified this by examples of “smart technology” across the globe and presented the ambitious commitments of various GeSI member companies as well as the GeSI commitments to advance sustainability. It became evident that the ICT sector already unfolds massive economic impact to contribute to a global sustainable future.

Another prominent speaker at the side event was the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Björn Stigson. In his presentation “Adapting to Climate Change with ICTs”, he stated that more then 200 leading companies employing thirteen million people are backing the issue. He differentiated between four interrelated spheres, namely the global system (climate agreements, carbon markets, institutions), Ecosystems capacity (climate, forestation, land use, water and food), societal structure (energy system, urbanization, mobility, lifestyles, ICT) and burden sharing (whose carbon is it and who pays?). After characterizing the interplay between governments and business, he pointed out that “sectoral approaches” has become a mantra in international circles but means very different things to different people. SA’s will require a strong business involvement and proposals for solutions, he said. He reminded the audience that “Business cannot succeed in a society that fails.”

In her presentation, Cristina Bueti (Policy Analyst, ITU) divided the positive effects of ICT for climate protection into three categories: directly, by energy saving, for example through next generation networks and new transmission technology; indirectly, by using ICT for carbon abatement, for example net meetings instead of face-to-face meetings which necessitate air travel.The most important factor in this respect is dematerialization. She reported on new initiatives of ITU dedicated to improve and accelerate contributions of ICT to climate protection, for example the “Focus Group on ICTs and Climate Change” established 2008. This group will conduct massive research on the issue and produce comprehensive publications, the so-called „deliverables“. Ms. Bueti demonstrated that ITU initiates, supports and significantly contributes to initiatives and endeavours across the globe which aim at bringing about decisive climate protection effects by employing ICT.

Pierre Delforge, Hewlett-Packard’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy Manager, reported on HP’s achievements and commitments. HP will, among other measures, substantially reduce the carbon footprint of its operations by reducing the absolute energy consumption of facilities by 16% from 2005 levels to 2010, double the use of sustainable energy, enact workplace transformation and employee engagement, reduce climate impact of HP products and services, reduce and substitute materials with new packaging solution, deliver energy efficient solutions for power and cooling chain and reduce impact of HP supply chain. His demands to politics: (a) set clear direction and targets for CO2 reductions; (b) implement an effective market framework: carbon pricing; (c) complementary incentives for ICT-enabled energy efficiency; (d) leverage public spending: pilot projects, public procurement, R&D;
(e) coordinate: cross-industry and industry-governmental collaboration, Educate and (f) inform: best practices, benchmarking, training.

Apart from the presentation of the studies, the Side Event consisted of a panel discussion on ICT and climate change which was moderated by ITU`s Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao (ITU). The closing remarks were made by Houlin Zhao.