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Energy»Gadgets ‘killing the planet’, warns energy watchdog

»Monday, June 15,2009

Our modern obsession with iPods, mobile phones and large-screen televisions is causing a surge in energy use that’s damaging the environment, according to the International Energy Agency.

 

The group estimates that 200 new nuclear power plants would be required to provide electricity for all the computers, televisions and music players that will be plugged in by 2030.

By then, gadgets will need around 1,700 terawatt hours of power to run, which is three times today’s amount, and equal to the current combined domestic energy consumption of the United States and Japan.

The IEA, which advises 28 industrialised countries, estimates that the bill to power these devices will be around $200 billion a year (£130bn), with developing nations one of the fastest growing markets for consumer electronics devices.

Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst for the International Energy Agency, said that the consumer electronics sector had very few policies in place to control energy efficiency. “This will jeopardise efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases,” he said.

Gadgets currently account for around 15 per cent of global domestic electrical consumption, said the agency. In the UK, the Energy Savings Trust has projected that by 2020, gadgets will account for about 45 per cent of electricity used in British homes, with flat-screen televisions and digital radios among the most power-hungry devices.

Last year, global spend on electricity to power household gadgets and appliances exceeded $80 billion dollars. By 2030, the total greenhouse gas emissions from household gadgets could double to around one billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, the International Energy Agency warned.

Mr Waide said that improvements to the energy efficiency of television sets could be one way of avoiding increased emissions.

There are around two billion televisions in use throughout the world, with an average of 1.3 television sets per household. The trend towards bigger televisions with larger screens, and an increasing amount of time spent in standby mode, is having a huge impact on energy consumption, he said.

Simple measures, such as allowing consumers to turn features on and off as they use them, could be one way of reducing the carbon footprint generated by televisions.

The IEA also called on governments to implement minimum performance standards and new energy-consumption benchmarks, as well as making energy-efficiency labels on products easier to read and understand to help consumers make an informed choice about the sort of gadgets they are buying.

Energy-guzzling consumer electronics

  • 42in plasma screen TV, bought 2006 – 6.5 hrs on, 10.5 hrs standby, has typical carbon emissions of 460kg CO2 a year and costs about £110 a year to run
  • Desktop computer, bought 2006 – 10 hrs on, 14 hrs in sleep/”off” modes has typical carbon dioxide emissions 200kg and costs about £50 a year to run
  • Set top box/satellite PVR, bought 2008 – 17 hrs on, 7 hrs standby/day has typical carbon dioxide emissions 100kg CO2 a year and cost about £25 a year to run
  • PlayStation 3, bought 2007 – 2 hrs per day in play-mode, 22 hrs standby/day has typical carbon dioxide emissions of around 80kg CO2 a yr and cost around £20 a year to run
  • Laser printer, bought 2007 – 30 mins in “ready” modes, 1.5 hrs in low power mode has typical carbon dioxide emissions of around 85kg a year and costs around £20 a year to run
  • Xbox 360, bought 2007 – 2 hrs per day in play-mode, 22 hrs standby/day has typical carbon dioxide emissions of around 70kg a year and costs around £20 a year to run
  • Nintendo Wii, bought 2007 – 2 hrs per day in play-mode, 22 hrs standby/day has typical carbon dioxide emissions of around 15kg a year and costs around £4 a year to run
  • Digital Radio, bought 2006 – 3 hrs listening per day, 21 hrs standby has typical carbon dioxide emissions of around 30kg a year and costs around £7 a year to run

Source: Energy Savings Trust

 

 


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