What about the electricity ICTs consume?

With the rising concern about climate change there is an increasing focus on the amount of electricity that ICTs consume. The more gadgets we have, especially mobile devices that require charging, the greater the demand for electricity. At present, around the globe, the fuel being used to meet much of the demand for new electricity generation is the worst from the point of view of carbon emissions: coal. However, it’s not the everyday use of ICTs that’s driving their electricity demand.

Though people might focus on the direct use of electricity by devices – because that’s the part of the system they can “see” – in terms of the overall life cycle of ICT devices, more energy will have been used during their production. In fact, as the direct energy use of electrical goods reduces, so the energy consumed in production becomes more significant19. For example, the memory chip in a laptop computer can take more energy to produce than the laptop itself will consume over its three-year service life. This is another reasons why extending the life cycle of ICTs is important for environmental sustainability.

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