Thursday, April 24, 2008

US Study tries to find that ICT Reduces Energy Use

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report, Information and Communication Technologies: The Power of Productivity, ICT has a ten to one energy saving. That is for each kilowatt-hour of electricity used to run computers and telecommunications, the report's authors claim ten are saved.

Unfortunately, while the media release and executive summary are made freely available, the full report requires registration. After registering and downloading the report it becomes clear that the claims made in the publicly available material are not substantiated in the report. The PDF security on the report does not permit copying sections from the document, making detailed analysis of the material more difficult.

"Our own macro-level analysis, completed specifically for this study, confirms the important contributions of ICT towards the economy-wide increases in energy productivity. To generate a reasonable working estimate of ICT-related energy productivity gains, we collected data on energy use and ICT investments for the U./S. over the years 1949 through 2006. We then used a series of regression analyses to provide a first order impact that ICT investments might have on the annual change in total energy consumed in the United States.

After controlling for the effects of population and economic growth,. the mix of ICT technologies was found to have a significant dampening effect on the nation's energy consumption. In effect, while population and economic growth generally increased overall energy usage, the ICT investments increased the overall efficiency of energy use so that the total was somewhat dampened. The upshot is that by using 2006 data on investments in information technologies, the series of regression models lead us to estimate that for each kilowatt-hour of (mostly) electricity needed to power the use of ICT equipment - whether computers, servers, or telecommunication equipment - approximately 6 to 14 equivalent kilowatt-hours of energy were saved. For example one kilowatt-hour of electricity used by a variety of ICT devices might enable the saving of a gallon of gasoline as a result of reduced travel demand."

From: Information and Communication Technologies: The Power of Productivity, John A 'Skip' Laitner, Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, Report E081, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, February 2008

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