Monday, September 27, 2010

ICT2010, a green perspective

Last year GridTalk released a GridBriefing on the topic of Green IT, based on a Communication from the European Commission. I was interested to see how this area has developed since then, so went along to hear the ‘Mobilising ICT for energy efficiency session’ this afternoon at ICT 2010.

The session brought together experts from industry – including Ericsson, Siemens, and Orange – to give their take on the issue. As the Commissions’ Communication detailed, there are two main questions here: 1) how can we reduce our own sector’s (ICT) emissions and 2) how can we use ICT to enable reductions in other sectors?

Elaine Weidman Grunewald of Ericsson explained that we need to shift from incremental emission reductions to using transformative technologies. For example developing a green car can help to reduce vehicle carbon emissions but holding a virtual meeting instead of using a car is a transformative change that can dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. In many cases the technologies needed for this change are already available, the challenge is implementation.

A big problem is how to measure carbon emission and savings made in switching from one method to another. As with grids, standardisation is important, according to the last speaker of the session, Matthew Bateson of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Switzerland. Current standards do not address indirect emissions, so the WBCSD have overseen a new set of new guidelines which address supply chain and product life cycles. These have been produced as a result of a two year programme and will be launched at the end of 2010.

With other talks focusing on how ICT can help cut emissions in buildings and through smart energy grids it seems that there is plenty of potential for the future, we just need to realise it.

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