More Data, Less Energy: Making network standby more efficient in billions of connected devices

ImageInternational Launch Press webinar

on Wednesday, 2 July 2014, 13:30 Paris Time

Maria van der Hoeven
Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA)

Didier Houssin
Director of Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology, IEA

The electricity demand of our increasingly digital economies is growing at an alarming rate. While data centre energy demand has received much attention, of greater cause for concern is the growing energy demand of billions of networked devices such as smart phones, tablets and set-top boxes.

In 2013, a relatively small portion of the world’s population relied on more than 14 billion of these devices to stay connected. That number could skyrocket to 500 billion by 2050, driving dramatic increases in both energy demand and wasted energy.

Being connected 24/7 means these information and communication technology (ICT) devices draw energy all the time, even when in standby mode. This publication probes their hidden energy costs. In 2013, such devices consumed 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, surpassing the total electricity consumption of Canada.

Studies show that for some devices, such as game consoles, up to 80% of the energy consumption is used just to maintain a network connection. Implementing best available technologies could reduce the energy demand of network-enabled devices by up to 65%. In the absence of strong market drivers to optimise the energy performance of these devices, policy intervention is needed.

Building on its experience in setting international policy for standby energy consumption of stand-alone devices, the International Energy Agency uses this publication to set the stage for tackling the much bigger challenge of network standby. In exploring both policy and technology solutions, the book charts a path forward and identifies which stakeholders should take the lead in particular areas. An underlying message is that there is a need for international cooperation across all parts of the ICT value chain.

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