How big an eco-hazard is IT equipment?
A hard charge to make stick...
Are computers bad for the planet? As a consumer of power, IT equipment is certainly all too visible, and is shaping up to become a prime whipping boy for governments striving to get a lid on their CO2 emissions. After anything that burns petrol, PCs, chargers and that arch eco-criminal, standby mode, now come pretty close to the centre of the crosshairs.
And they're being targeted by Brussels. This year, as part of its action plan for energy efficiency, the European Commission will begin to enforce minimum energy performance requirements on a range of electrical appliance categories, including IT equipment and consumer electronics. It has selected 14 priority groups of products which will be subject to energy efficiency labelling and the somewhat more complex EcoDesign Directive.
The labelling end of the deal is relatively straightforward, giving an indication of how much juice an appliance uses to do the job it's supposed to do, whereas EcoDesign is intended to set down broader design requirements for products, dealing with "the consequences of energy consumption, consumption of other materials/resources, waste generation and release of hazardous substances to the environment" and involving "systematic integration of environmental aspects at a very early stage in the product design". (more details here).
At its best, an EcoDesign product could be said to be "best of breed", environmentally speaking, while at the very least EcoDesign will define maximum consumption and efficiency limits for products sold within the EU. By attempting to specify what is and is not acceptable in product manufacture and design, however, it could clearly be controversial, and spark international rows over trade and protectionism.
Energy efficiency labelling is more readily achievable. Among the 14 priority groups nominated are computers, TVs, chargers and PSUs and "standby and off-mode losses", with "special attention" being paid to standby losses.
These are a popular target, and were also of particular interest to MEPs recently, who in addition to demanding the abolition of patio heaters, called for the commission to set a one watt standby mode limit, and to research the likely benefits of moving to zero watt standby.
No sooner said than done. When it comes to environmentally aware computing, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers (FSC) is one of Europe's old-stagers, and last autumn announced zero watt standby monitors, which use capacitors to store sufficient charge to kick them back into action.
Speaking to The Register earlier this year, FSC CTO Dr Joseph Reger unpicked the economics of standby mode. A monitor with a regular power adapter would consume approximately €1.60 worth of power per year, so switching over to zero watt standby, assuming 16 hours of standby time per day, would save less than €1 per monitor per year.
Which, as Dr Reger readily concedes, is not exactly a compelling argument for the immediate replacement of existing kit with low or zero standby mode devices. Financially the "savings" could easily be eclipsed by relatively minor discounts, and manufacturing and recycling costs would be greater than the power consumption-related benefits.
But, as Dr Reger points out, if you could have a zero watt standby monitor for the same price as a 1 watt one, why wouldn't you go for the zero variety?
As Usuall only half the story is told
and what about the RF-Emissions that all this IT gear produces.
I see that no-one bothers to take into account the damage to the population or wildlife that RFI / ELECTROSMOG is causing.
So i predict that in 20 years we will be all walking about in the latest fashionable RFI sheilded clothing, wearing RFI proof netting over our heads(like beekeepers).
or, that all mobile comunications devices will be banned and there will be no masts to blot the skyline of our schools and housing estates.
either way the NHS will haveimploded with the shear weight of the population suffering from numerous diverse medical symptoms which can all be sourced back to 1980 as the date it all started.(1st phone towers went up).
i personally long for the day that all crackberry addicts get thier just deserts, what flavour of cancer or other RF induced permanent disability would you like, doesnt really matter, you can expect a very long-very painfull drawn out existance(welcome to the club).
The government has no intention in furthering research or preventing whats coming, as the current status quo keeps the chavs in jobs(selling and using mobiles) the industry generates billions of $$$.
They dont need to bother wasting money on finding out why the bees all die off(RFI/Electrosmog), as they can just import more from austrailia, as the US is doing.(for now!)
It makes money from taxes, keeps the economy ticking over nicely, and they dont have to worry about the pensions issue looming, as most people will be killed off by the side effects of RFI before they reach pensionable age, and since there are so many towers next to OAP homes, it will simply speed up the attrition rate.
Win-Win all round to the government, lose-lose to the general population who are and will be missled by bad science funded and distorted by the vested interests of the multi-trillion pound mobile phone business.(ciggy anyone!)
mines the crinkly silver one with the burnt edges......
If you cared about power consumption
You wouldn't iron your clothes.
If you want to get serious as a govt. introduce communal cooking facilities in urban areas. Home cooking is seriously wasteful.
Stop TV transmission at midnight-6am.
Make public transport near free, including trains & the underground.
Quadruple the price of petrol.
Force shops to turn off lights when closed (my local TkMaxx is 3 floors of Xmas tree at night)
Turn off every other street light.
Anything else, like fiddling around with PSUs, is just pissing about.
Can we have a "False Finishing Touch" icon please?
As I think Jeffypooh's analogy is indeed just the ticket and relevant to a lot of Reg articles.
Perhaps a J-Reg 1.3 Honda Civic with a huge exhaust, as he suggested?
Same Woolly Logic Gave Us Low Energy Light-bulb Crusade
Technical ignorance is rarely a check on eco-campaigners in full cry. The same people are foisting Low Enrgy Lightbulbs onto a (cold) Northern European population where any savings will be miniscule. We will however be just able to read of the triumph in the shimmering, eerie glow of a 15W neon lamp.
CRT vs TFT
It is clear that CRTs consume way more power than comparable size TFTs..
So, why do the new TFT sets consume more than old CRTS? SIZE. If you double the size, you cuadruple the surface.. and there it is...more power requirements.
A good researcher would mention the SIZE as a problem, not TFT technology, because TFT technology is more efficient even using CCFL backlight, and even more using the new led backlight units.