Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) is defined as the use of telecommunications equipment, electronic computing equipment and related software to convert, store, process, transmit and receive mostly digital informative data. This term can be understood by a common example: In a landline telephone system, messages are conveyed as signals on wires. The message is conveyed electronically. Manipulation of data takes place when you speak into the phone – your words are transformed into electronic signals. The data is then transmitted through the phone system, stored briefly for further processing on the way, and transformed back into words at the other end. In a mobile phone system, messages are also stored and manipulated but in this case they are conveyed by electromagnetic means such as radio waves, which are wireless.

ICTs has spread widely across all activities & actions in our daily life style. It also means that through these rapid advances, formerly non-computerized entities – from individual goods to entire economic processes – become increasingly ICT based. A digital camera is a replacement of its analog counterpart. It is more capable in terms of sending image data to other devices, capture better quality pictures and consume less power. ICTs can play a transformative role in securing a sustainable and energy efficient future. Improving energy efficiency will save money, help protect the environment, create new jobs, and spur economic growth.

ICT Related Energy Consumption & Energy Efficiency:

ICT energy consumption is the amount of energy consumed by ICT system for a given period of time and ICT energy efficiency is the factor by which the energy consumption decreases if an ICT system is added to it and all other things are kept as usual.

 Given two system A & B, producing the same amount of output of the services SA & SB (i.e. SA = SB). Now system A contains one sub-system C (ICT) and system B is kept as usual then, the ICT related energy efficiency of A with regard to C is the relative energy efficiency of A with regard to B (with B = A \ C).

Several case studies have been done in order to measure the impact of ICT application in the buildings sector, industrial sector, energy grid sectors and so on. The data found so far is quite impressive and calls for need of ICT for gaining the energy efficiency. Considering the energy consumption in building sectors, following areas are kept in focus, where ICT in support can provide high efficiency:

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Lighting & security systems
  • Large electrical equipment like elevator, pumps.
  • Power backup & generators

Water heating requires energy. Typically, carbon energy sources such as electricity, fuel and gas (burners) are utilized in dwellings. Solar water heating systems are alternative solutions, which have a higher demand on supporting infrastructure. The control of water temperature, demand according to the time of the day and throughput are areas where mechanical and ICT based systems can support for a more efficient utilization of energy. ICT devices can monitor outdoor & indoor temperature, boiler temperature, air/moisture circulation related data and transmit them over wired/wireless connection to the controller. Similarly, there is a huge scope of ICT enablement in the field of lighting systems. The reduction of energy consumption related to lighting follows following approaches:

  • New light sources Iike LED’s and OLED’s
  • ICT enabled lighting control

ICT enabled lighting control is used in a majority of the new construction & renovation projects of schools/offices in USA. Lighting can be turned on and off as well as dimmed most efficiently with a lighting control that is integrated in the building automation system. ICT control systems may include motion sensors, ambient light sensors and timers all connected with control panel. ICT is also providing software controlled data processing, memory & display functionality for easy user interaction.

ICT has a huge potential in the field of efficient use of energy and saving the environment. European Commission (EC) has presented integrated proposal for climate action, which is targeting following terms:

  • A reduction of at least 20% in greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2020.
  • Saving of energy consumption by 20% by 2020 through high-energy efficiency.

In modern society, ICT is ever-present, with over three billion people having access to the Internet, with approximately 8 out of 10 Internet users owning a smartphone, information and data sharing are increasing. This rapid growth, especially in developing countries, has led ICT to become a keystone of everyday life. Looking at the current discussed application areas in which the deployment of ICT could lead to better energy efficiency.

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