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The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society. The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
This report looks at the information and communications technology industry and identifies nine priority actions it can take to reduce its energy use while simultaneously driving high performance.
The information and communications technology industry is energy intensive, particularly when it comes to consumer use of its products and services. In countries with a high level of information technology and computer services, these technology systems can constitute up to 10 percent of all electricity use.
Information and communications technology systems account for around 25 percent of electricity use in commercial office buildings; this number can be as high as 60 percent to 70 percent when usage is dense. Large, global information and communications technology companies can use up to 260 million watts of electricity powering their data centers—enough energy to power 200,000 homes.
Some information and communications technology companies have large manufacturing operations that require a great deal of energy. A large electronics manufacturer can consume up to 13 GWh of electricity in a year.
However, while the information and communications technology industry consumes a great deal of energy, it also enables energy efficiency in many other industries and has significant opportunities to generate business value by enabling energy efficiency in other industries.
The information and communications technology industry can make a significant contribution to the achievement of the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ objectives by creating products and services to enable customers to use less energy.
In many parts of the world, people rely on products and services such as computers, mobile phones, virtual meeting rooms and e-commerce sites every day. These tools and technologies allow humans to connect with each other faster while using less energy. In addition to driving revenue growth from improved products and services, companies can enter new markets. Creating a smarter electrical grid, for example, will improve the efficiency of electricity consumption and will allow renewable sources of electricity to integrate with the existing grid seamlessly. Using analytics and on-board telematics to improve transportation and logistics will enable the more energy-efficient transport of products and people.
Expanding a company’s core business into these growing areas will not only grow revenues, but also enhance a company’s brand value.
Aside from bringing new technologies and products and services to market, many information and communications technology companies have energy-intensive manufacturing operations. These companies can drive significant business value by improving the energy efficiency of their operations and lowering the overall cost of goods sold. There are also opportunities for companies to improve brand value and mitigate risk through the increased use of renewable energy to power operations.
The information and communications technology industry can take nine priority actions to become more energy efficient and to advance its business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:
Increase virtualization of products, services and processes.
Develop products and services that enable cities and urban areas to be more energy efficient and integrate renewable energy.
Continue development of products and services in support of smart grids.
Develop products and services to improve the energy efficiency of travel and logistics.
Develop products and services that improve the energy efficiency of vehicles.
Improve the energy efficiency of the products and services offered to the market.
Increase the energy efficiency of operations.
Use renewable energy to power operations and facilities.
Support policies that encourage information and communications technology-enabled energy.
October 2, 2012
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