In the next seven months, the number of people using personal computers will pass one billion (compared to the nearly two billion who own TVs). Over half the global population owns a mobile phone, and there are over 5.5 billion external power devices for electronic devices. Electronic devices account for 15 percent of household electricity consumption. From 1990-2008, electricity consumption from electronics grew 7 percent every year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that, if energy use continues as it is today, the energy consumed by electronic devices will double by 2022, tripling by 2030 to 1,700 Terawatt Hours (TWh).

“This increase up to 1,700 TWh is equivalent to the current combined total residential electricity consumption of the United States and Japan,” said IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka.

“It would also cost households around the world USD 200 billion in electricity bills and require the addition of approximately 280 Gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity between now and 2030,” Tanaka said.

The IEA attributes the rising energy consumption in electronics to the dramatic reduction in the purchase price of equipment, a rapid growth in stock (especially in flat-screen TVs and broadband), and new use trends (gaming, video, simultaneous TV-internet use, etc.)

If no steps are taken, electronics’ footprint will be 1 billion tons of CO2 by 2030.

The IEA believes there are ample opportunities for considerable energy savings. Using the best available technologies and processes would slow the increase in energy consumption to 1 percent a year, which would cut 2030 energy expenditures by over $130 million.

Tanaka sees the promise for an efficient future in today’s mobile market.

“Many mobile devices are already far more efficient in their use of power than other devices which run off a main electricity supply,” Tanaka said.

“Because extending the battery life of a mobile device is a selling point, manufacturers place an emphasis on designing products which require very little power,” Tanaka said. “This example shows us what can be achieved.”

By Mark Alvarez