Sunday, November 16, 2014

G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan Includes Networked Devices

The G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan issued in Brisbane today includes as the second of its six priorities: "Participating countries will work together to accelerate the development of new ways to improve the energy efficiency of networked devices". These devices not only include smart phones, computers and televisions, but now home appliances, heaters and air conditioners. As the G20 plan points out, these devices use power, even when in standby mode: "In 2015, this work will include consideration of options for goals for reducing the global standby mode energy consumption of networked devices".

For devices such as smart phones, the standby power could be a significant proportion of their energy use. However, for devices such as air conditioners the standby power is an insignificant part of overall power consumption. The G20 will also work on harmonization of domestic product energy efficiency standards. This could result in significant savings in Australia electricity consumption, as Australia currently has low standards for appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners. There is considerable scope for reducing the energy consumption of air conditioners in particular with smart technology and for making them more compatible with renewable energy sources. How to progress the G20's energy efficiency plans would be a good project for my "ICT Sustainability" students.

A set of G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration were also issued. G20 countries agreed to work together to: "Rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, over the medium term ..." (item 6) and "... promoting cost-effective energy efficiency, renewables and clean energy" (item 7). This is at odds with the G20 chair last month saying: "Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world ..." (from: "Coal 'good for humanity', Prime Minister Tony Abbott says at $3.9b Queensland mine opening", ABC, 13 October 2014).

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