Energy-efficient Information and Communication Technologies at Home

The "HOME ICT" project’s objective is to support sustainable energy-efficient ICT technology for private use and to develop recommendations for political measures to be taken for supporting efficient scenarios in Austria.

Technical developments in the information and communication technology (ICT) and entertainment electronics create new applications and services at home that are increasingly in demand. Data processing technologies and technologies for entertainment electronics blend increasingly together; essential drivers are the internet as well as new technologies for appliances. The overall sector of ICT (office appliances, telecommunication and the larger part of entertainment electronics) is today responsible for nearly 10% of the power consumption and uses about 5.5 TWh in Austria, half of which in households.

Designing sustainable ICT solutions

Due to ICT invading gradually all product levels and also private life areas, the energy requirement is increasing continuously and visionary strategies for the future are necessary to design sustainable ICT solutions, to avoid a further essential energy-consuming driver in this sector. This project is to support this objective significantly.

At present, energy efficiency is not one of the most important factors during developing, manufacturing and using ICT infrastructure, as the performance features count first of all (particularly marketing) and not the thus-connected energy consumption.

Developing and using services and devices in an energy-conscious way, reduces the ICT-related energy consumption significantly and achieves a positive effect on other areas in the private and business sector. This can be accomplished by innovatively approaching the component (chip) level as well as the system (device) level and also at protocols – respectively usage – and control levels. An energy-conscious attitude of users can also contribute to saving energy. This project considers technological measures that will reduce the energy consumption and establish energy-saving potentials in the area of ICT technologies and applications.

More convenience – higher energy requirement

Within the area of private use, the modern information and communication technology (ICT) offers numerous new functions, products and services with even more convenience; however, this will use increasingly more energy, unless technical solutions are found that address the utility as well as the efficiency.

Developing energy consumption scenarios

During the first stage, the actual situation as well as the development trends within the ICT sector and their usage is analysed. Apart from a technologically oriented evaluation, this comprises recording the current users’ habits while handling modern IT, from which typical user patterns as well as specific consumer requirements can be deduced. Starting from the actual situation and with regard the future trends, scenarios are being established in respect of the energy consumption to be expected for the “business-as-usual “ scenario. At the same time the best already available and the best not yet available technologies are examined and a theoretical energy efficiency potential established.

Based on that, energy consumption scenarios are set up, showing the options and the potential for saving energy by making use of sustainable ICT. Apart from considering technological options, strategies for making consumers more aware and stimulating their users’ attitudes to be more conscious towards sustainability are taken into consideration. Finally, recommendations for political measures are formulated to support a sustainable development of the ICT in the area of private use, particularly considering the potential available in Austria for research, development and implementation.

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