Gadgets Increasing Green House Gas Emissions


With increased mobile phone and computer use, says the International Energy Agency, comes increased energy use

By 2010 there will be more than 3.5 billion mobile phone subscribers, 1 billion personal computers and 2 billion televisions in use around the world, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an energy policy advisor to 28 member countries.

As the numbers of these devices increase, so, too, does the demand for energy.

Presenting a new IEA publication, “Gadgets and Gigawatts” in Paris on 13 May, IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka remarked that “despite anticipated improvements in the efficiency of electronic devices, these savings are likely to be overshadowed by the rising demand for technology in OECD and non-OECD countries.”

The OECD, or the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, was established in 1961 and consists of 30 democratic member countries that discuss answers to common problems and coordinate domestic and international policies.

“Without new policies, the energy consumed by information and communications technologies as well as consumer electronics will double by 2022 and increase threefold by 2030 to 1,700 Terawatt hours (TWh). This will jeopardise efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases,” the IEA wrote in a statement on the book launch.

In “Gadgets and Gigawatts,” the IEA reports that electricity consumption from residential information and communications technologies, and from consumer electronics, can be cut by more than half through the use of available technologies and processes.

Nokia, the largest mobile device manufacturer in an industry of more than 4 billion users, according to Kirsi Sormunen, Nokia’s vice president of environmental affairs, is among the many companies taking steps toward being an environmental steward — which she said has been an interest for Nokia since long before green became trendy.

“It’s in Nokia’s DNA,” Sormunen told eWEEK. “And I should know, I’ve been at Nokia for 28 years myself!”

While companies throughout the supply chain need to do their parts, Sormunen says there are simple steps end-users can take as well. For example, unplugging the charger from the wall when it’s not in use.

According to data from Nokia, the amount of energy lost when a charger is plugged in but not connected to a phone is equivalent to two-thirds of the energy used by a fully charged device.

Another energy-saving tip, particularly for those who tend to charge their devices overnight, is to unplug the charger and device as soon as the device is finished charging.

In a market of 4 billion devices, Sormunen says: “There are 1 billion users using our devices. If just those people would unplug the charger, it would provide enough energy [to power] 100,000 homes.”

Nokia additionally reports that if all 3 billion people using mobile phones around the world recycled one mobile phone a year — the presumption being that each of us has an old phone or two in a drawer — those devices could save 240,000 tons of raw material and reduce greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.

Decreasing the brightness of the phone’s screen, turning off Bluetooth and WLAN capabilities when not in use, and turning off or disabling sounds on keypads are also ways to increase the energy efficiency of a mobile device.

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