February 06, 2008, 2:50 PM — IT vendors can play a major role in reducing the world's energy consumption,
but information about the benefits of technology has been lacking in an ongoing
environmental debate in Washington, D.C., three tech CEOs said Wednesday.
While IT consumption of energy in the U.S. has grown in the last decade, technology
also displaces more than its share of energy-consuming activities in other sectors,
members of the Technology CEO Council said. The advocacy group highlighted
a report, released Wednesday, saying that every kilowatt hour of energy
used by IT replaces 10 kilowatt hours of energy that would have been used elsewhere.
IT currently uses about 6 percent of U.S. electricity, up from 2 percent to
3 percent in 2000, said John "Skip" Laitner, co-author of the report
and director of economic policy analysis at the American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). But through a wide variety
of IT products, including tech that enables video conferencing, telecommuting
and e-mail, technology results in a net decrease in energy consumption, he said.
Instead of flying to a conference in Sweden recently, Laitner attended by video
conference, he said. And in preparing the ACEEE's report, Laitner received thousands
of pages of documents by e-mail or downloads, instead of having them delivered.
Few studies have explored the energy efficiencies created by IT, he added.
"We have to look at what that's displacing," he said.
Users of computers and other tech products should expect more energy savings
in the future, said Dell CEO
Michael Dell. He joined Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied
Materials, and Joe Tucci, chairman, president and CEO of EMC,
at a press briefing focused on green technologies.
"As an industry, we have begun to take up the [environmental] issue in
a serious way," Dell said. "It's an issue that customers care about."
The IT industry has come under some criticism for its energy use, particularly
at large data centers. In January 2007, U.S. Senator Wayne Allard, a Colorado
Republican, introduced a bill that would require the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency to analyze and report to Congress about
the growth and energy consumption of computer data centers by the federal government
and private companies.
Congress needs to "more fully understand the impact that the growing number
of computers in use throughout the country has on energy consumption,"
Allard said then.