On Tuesday it was announced that 16 more ICT firms have agreed to reduce the electricity consumption of their broadband equipment and data centres.
It’s all part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, adopted by the European Commission in May 2010. The Commission wants to ensure that the ICT sets an example in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, given that ICT equipment and services consume over 8% of electrical power in the EU and produce about 4% of its CO2 emissions, figures that are set to double by 2020, according to the Commission. The EC scheme is voluntary, but 36 major ICT companies had already signed up.
The initiative is based round two codes of conduct:
• The code of conduct on broadband equipment (which accounts for around 15% of the ICT sector's overall energy consumption)sets maximum power consumption for many different types of equipment, such as modems, switches, routers and home gateways.
Ten telecom operators and manufacturers are already participating, covering around 25 million broadband lines, 27% of the EU total. The new companies to join are A1 Telekom Austria AG, Belgacom, British Telecom , KPN, France Telecom-Orange, OTE, Portugal Telecom, Telefonica, Telenor and Turk Telekom. As a result, the coverage will raise to 65 million broadband lines in the EU (72% of the total) plus 10 million more in Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
• The code of conduct on data centres, introduced in 2008, aims to improve design practices to make data centres more efficient. This year a series of best practice recommendations on design, purchase and operation in areas like software, IT architecture and IT infrastructure were added. Data centres account for around 18% of the ICT sector's energy consumption and they are expected to grow faster than any other ICT technology.
Six new companies signed up on Tuesday, joining the existing 26 participants (with 42 data centres). The new companies are: Belgacom, France Telecom-Orange, TDC Services, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Turk Telekom.
In addition, the ICT4EE (ICT for Energy Efficiency) Forum is working to develop methodologies to measure the sector's energy and carbon performances and the quantification of the benefits that ICT solutions bring to other sectors such as buildings and transport. It was established by the ICT industry following the European Commission's 2009 Recommendation to facilitate the transition to an ICT-based low-carbon economy.
It’s good to see the ICT sector setting an example in this way. It’s getting to the point where companies will become noticeable by their absence (the full list of companies taking part is in the press release)
Whilst encouraging ICT companies to be greener in their operations is commendable, I’m particularly looking forward to the ICT4EE fulfilling its remit. When I reported on its launch back in February I made the point that ‘It may sound like just another gathering of ICT interest to promote green action, but if it fulfils its demanding remit the forum could have a decisive role in Europe. Reflecting its Smart 2020 roots, it’s looking at the wider opportunities for ICT to help reduce emissions. But it also anticipates ensuring that it has input to green policy making where ICT can make a difference, both at the EU and country levels. Ambitious, but needed’.