Use of broadband cuts energy consumption
Most of us enjoy the benefits broadband has brought to our lives – being able to download or stream music, reading the news online, working from home, internet banking… But as well as being convenient, these sorts of online services are also helping to reduce global energy consumption, and carbon emissions.
A new report from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) has identified the reductions in energy consumption that could result when more people choose to do things online rather than the traditional way. In a simulation, the eight broadband services studied – telecommuting (instead of traveling to work), reading news online (buying newspapers or magazines), streaming music (buying physical media such as CDs), online banking (going to a bank), online shopping (visiting a shop), online education (going to school), digital photos (photo prints) and e-mail (letters sent by post) – led to energy savings of about 2 percent for both the US and the EU’s five top-performing economies (EU-5): France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Two percent might not sound like a lot, but that works out as the equivalent of 125 million barrels of oil a year for the EU-5 and 250 million barrels for the US. That’s the same as the energy produced annually by 20 large power stations for the EU-5, or 40 for the US.
The study – sponsored by Verizon, BT, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson – showed that the greatest benefits by far could come from an increase in telecommuting. This shift could produce energy savings equivalent to 102 million barrels of oil per year in the EU-5, and 214.6 million barrels of oil in the US.
This is in line with earlier research done by Ericsson, where we show “smarter work” techniques could reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by 2-4 percent.
Just the other day on the New Cities Foundation Facebook page, I saw a map of the top 20 cities most at risk, and I can’t help but wonder how we will come out of this climate change situation. Leveraging existing technologies must be part of the plan.
This latest report looks at more common services that we are already using every day. Now let’s all put the sustainability lens on them.