Gadgets fuel demand for electricity

A Paris-based energy watchdog is alarmed by the soaring electricity needs of gadgets such as MP3 players, mobile phones and flat-screen televisions, the Associated Press reported. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that new electronic gadgets will triple their energy consumption by 2030 to 1,700 terawatt hours, the equivalent of current home-electricity consumption in the United States and Japan combined.

According to the IEA, the world would have to build around 200 new nuclear power plants just to power all the TVs, iPods, personal computers and other devices expected to be plugged in by 2030. The global electricity bill to power them will rise to US$200 billion a year, the agency said.

Consumer electronics is “the fastest growing area and it’s the area with the least amount of policies in place” to control energy efficiency, said Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst at the IEA. Most of the increase in consumer electronics will be in developing countries, Waide added, where economic growth is fastest and ownership rates of gadgets is lowest. “This will jeopardise efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases” blamed for global warming, according to the IEA.

Existing technologies could slash gadgets’ energy consumption by more than 30% at no cost or by more than 50% at a small cost, the IEA estimates. Waide said simple measures, such as allowing consumers to regulate the energy consumption of their gadgets, should be adopted. Further, he added, governments need to encourage minimum performance standards and easy-to-read energy labels, so consumers can take energy efficiency into account when choosing products.

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