How information technology is helping us become more energy efficient

At Cleanleap one of the things we do is bring together technologists from the information technology side with those working in industries such as energy or construction.  There are four reasons we want to bring these groups together.  First, information and communications technology (ICT) is the industry that has changed more than any other in the past 30 years and is therefore a good industry to learn from as we make the massive transformation in decarbonizing our energy systems.  ICT is also a huge consumer of electricity, with some estimates saying that data centres are responsible for as much as 10% of consumption worldwide.  Thirdly, as shown in this report a number of IT companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Rackspace are leading the way in the use of clean energy technologies and building green data centres.  Finally, information technology provides us with the advanced monitoring and analytical capabilities to build smarter, cleaner systems.  This last point is what this report from the World Bank is focused on.

Why this report matters for countries making a Cleanleap

In this report you’ll find a number of practical case studies whereby companies and governments are using information technology to provide a better grid system, smarter buildings and enhanced logistics.  It shows how organisations are achieving reduced energy requirements as a result of improvements to energy efficiency and reduced consumption through digitisation of physical materials (e.g. getting rid of paper), better use of audio / video conferencing and electronic processing.  The case studies are from the United States, Germany, Canada, Singapore, India, China and Kenya.

For countries making a Cleanleap, this is particularly important and the timing is right.  As I mention in this post, access to information technology is expected to sharply grow over the coming decades and will add billions of dollars to local economies.  It will also put new strains on energy systems.  As shown in this report, better information technology can lead to lower costs, a cleaner environment and just smarter ways to do things.