As part of its effort to combat climate change, the European
Commission has announced that it would promote the use of
ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) to improve
energy efficiency throughout the economy - starting with buildings,
lighting and the power grid.
ICT can enable - across the economy - greener behaviour,
which would massively cut Europe's carbon footprint if widely
deployed. The Commission will encourage the ICT industry to
demonstrate leadership in reducing its own CO2
emissions and by identifying and creating solutions
that will benefit the whole economy. For instance, the most
advanced computer servers consume the same amount of energy
as a standard light bulb - if widely used, they could offer
potential energy savings of up to 70%.
"To meet Europe's energy efficiency goals by 2020, we need
a high-growth, low-carbon economy. Research and rapid take-up
of innovative energy-efficient ICT solutions will be crucial
to lowering emissions across the whole economy" - said Viviane
Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "There
is a win-win situation in which ICT will promote the
competitiveness of EU industry, while leading the fight against
Without action, the EU's energy consumption is expected to
rise by as much as 25% by 2012, which would increase EU emissions
despite renewable energy targets. However, ICTs - if directed
to sustainable uses - could increase energy efficiency in
all areas of the economy, while continuing to account for
40% of Europe’s productivity growth. Promoting a cutting-edge
market for such energy-efficient technologies is also, potentially,
a long-term source of competitiveness, growth and jobs. These
are the conclusions of a new Communication adopted by the
The Commission will encourage the ICT sector - which, at
present, accounts for 2% of global CO2
emissions - to lead by example the drive towards carbon neutrality.
This will be done by reinforcing research, development and
deployment of components and systems, complemented by voluntary
agreements - for example, on green procurement. The real gains
from green ICT will come from developing energy-efficient
ICT solutions that impact the other 98% of global emissions.
To show that green technology can bring 'low carbon, high
growth' to the whole economy, the Commission will focus
on three energy intensive sectors -
- Energy generation and distribution uses one-third
of all primary energy. Electricity generation could be made
more efficient by 40% and its transport and distribution
by 10%. ICT could make - not only the management of power
grids more efficient, but also facilitate the integration
of renewable energy sources.
Denmark generates half its electricity through decentralised
grids - with wind power accounting for 20% of all electricity.
As a result, its CO2 emissions fell
from 937 to 517g/kWh from 1990-2005.
- The heating, cooling and lighting of buildings
account for more than 40% of European energy consumption.
ICT can continuously monitor data to optimise lighting,
ventilation and equipment performance and provide consumers
with real-time updates on their energy consumption to stimulate
In Finland, this smart metering encouraged consumers to
increase energy efficiency by 7%.
- 20% of world electricity is used for lighting.
Changing to energy-efficient light bulbs could halve today's
energy consumption for lighting by 2025. Intelligent light
bulbs, which automatically adjust to natural light and people's
presence, will have an even greater effect.
The Commission is also launching a consultation and partnership
process which includes the widest range of relevant stakeholders.
In this process, cities are considered a priority,
as they consume over 75% of the world's energy and produce
80% of its CO2 emissions. Urban areas
can also provide the right setting for testing, validating
and deploying new ICT-based solutions.
On 10 January 2007, the Commission adopted an energy and climate
change package - endorsed both by the European Parliament
and by EU leaders at the March 2007 European Council - targeting
a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990
levels and 20% renewable energy use by 2020 (IP/07/29).
On 23 January 2008, the Commission adopted a far-reaching
package, demonstrating that the agreed climate change targets
are technologically and economically feasible and provide
a unique business opportunity for thousands of European companies
EU research into ICT for energy efficiency has already produced
results. Under the Sixth Framework Programme, HIPEAC
and other research projects proved that computer performance
can be decoupled from energy consumption (Click
Here), while OLLA delivered organic light-emitting
diodes (OLEDs) - twice as efficient as standard lamps (Click