According to a report from Science Daily, the EU-funded ENERsip project (ENERgy Saving Information Platform for Generation and Consumption Networks) has found that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) could make possible a 30% reduction in electricity consumption in cities.
The result comes from a dual approach. Around 15-20% of the reduction is from reducing the use of electricity in homes by giving users information on their consumption, such as the appliances that use most energy, and then suggesting possible ways to cut energy use. The ENERsip platform, developed by the companies involved in the project, allows appliances to be monitored by networks of sensors and actuators so that they can be controlled wirelessly through web applications.
The second approach, which also saves 15-20% of electricity, comes from adjusting the consumption and generation of electricity in districts. The system they have designed allows the consumption in homes within a district to be adjusted as much as possible so that they use renewable energy generated by sources from within the same district, thus reducing energy flows and, consequently, energy losses and costs. For example, the temperature could be raised by a few degrees in the summer (or lowered in winter) in hundreds of thousands of homes during the periods of lowest production of renewable energy in a district, or the programmed running of certain appliances (dishwashers, washing machines) can be moved to a time period when renewable energy production its at its peak.
The researchers tested the system in various computer simulations and validated the platform in a pilot project carried out in three buildings.
Review: The potential for ICT to help reduce power consumption elsewhere is well recognised. The Smart 2020 report, published in 2008, detailed how the carbon savings through the use of ICT could be five times greater than the total emissions from the entire ICT sector in 2020.
This is the basis of the ‘enablement’ discussion around green IT - using ICT to reduce emissions elsewhere is by far the most important contribution the industry can make. While ICT accounts for around 2-3% of global carbon emissions, the Smart 2020 report said it could help save 15% of expected total emissions globally in 2020.
But while the theory is there, the ENERsip consortium, which is formed by ten partners from five European countries, has designed, developed and validated an ICT platform to put some of the theory into practice and measure the results. It’s reassuring to note that the savings were there, although there’s no reference to the power used by the ICT systems that contributed to the savings.