Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

StandbyThe International Energy Agency (IEA) is calling on policy makers, standards development organizations, software and hardware developers, designers, service providers, manufacturers and anyone else under the sun to help reduce energy demand from the world’s online electronic devices.

According to a report by the IEA, the world is wasting somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 billion US each year because of inefficient technology. Think set-top boxes, modems, printers and game consoles – in total roughly 14 billion online devices. 

The problem is only expected to worsen, too. By 2020, IEA said, we’ll be looking at an estimated $120 billion US wasted.

High-speed Washing Machines

Titled More Data, Less Energy: Making Network Standby More Efficient in Billions of Connected Devices, the IEA report says that despite data centres receiving much of the energy conservation attention, it’s the newly connected machinery, like washing machines, refrigerators, lights and thermostats, that are cause for concern. 

“The proliferation of connected devices brings many benefits to the world, but right now the cost is far higher than it should be,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven explained. “Consumers are losing money in the form of wasted energy, which is leading to more costly power stations and more distribution infrastructure being built than we would otherwise need – not to mention all the extra greenhouse gases that are being emitted. But it need not be this way. If we adopt best available technologies we can minimize the cost of meeting demand as the use and benefits of connected devices grows.”

Standby Mode Not All it’s Cracked up to be

According to the report, the brunt of the problem with these devices comes down to inefficient “network standby.” That’s a misnomer, IEA said. It suggests that the device has gone to sleep and is almost off, when in fact they are pulling as much power in standby as when they are fully running. 

Breaking it down, IEA said connected devices consumed roughly 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, the majority of that while in standby mode. Nearly 400 TWh of that total was wasted because of inefficient technology. For perspective, IEA said that’s the equivalent of electricity consumed annually by the United Kingdom and Norway combined. 

 “The problem is not that these devices are often in standby mode, but rather that they typically use much more power than they should to maintain a connection and communicate with the network,” Van der Hoeven said. “Just by using today’s best available technology, such devices could perform exactly the same tasks in standby while consuming around 65% less power.”

If better energy efficiency measures were applied to future online devices, 600 TWh of energy would be saved, the report’s authors explain. “That’s equivalent to shutting 200 standard 500MW coal-fired power plants, which would cut emissions by 600 million metric tons of CO2.” 

Standards and Policy Changes Needed

But to reach that goal, action is needed from all stakeholders along the value chain, not to mention cooperation. For example, IEA said that policy makers can provide incentives and establish market drivers, while standard development organizations can help build the technical foundations to enable and support energy efficient software and hardware. 

“Energy efficiency policies play an important role in galvanizing action across the value chain to reduce unnecessary energy demand,” van der Hoeven said, pointing to Minimum Energy Performance Standard programs and consumer labelling, like the EnergyStar program, that have saved billions of dollars of savings “for consumers across a wide range of product categories from washing machines to televisions.”  

Device manufacturers are key, here, too, she said. “Time and again we have seen that manufacturers can innovate and come up with high performing, reliable and attractive products that are also energy efficient.” Energy efficiency of mobile phones is becoming a major selling point, she added, pointing to phone manufacturers that are now building marketing plans around devices that use an absolute minimal amount of power. 

“They have proven that they are up to the challenge.”

For more detailed facts on the issue, click here.  

 

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 Electrician Forum Brought to You by Schneider Electric             

The Electrician Forum is a monthly column that provides valuable information to electricians and electrical contractors on current industry trends and concerns. 

Schneider ElectricSponsored by Schneider Electric

In this issue: 

Quite simply put if you feel that job site costing and quote development are a lot of work, you are right! To properly assess a job and estimate the required work time, product costs and various other expenses can take more time than is often feasible for a small company. You need to be spending your time completing projects, which can become difficult if you are spending your hours doing cost analysis. We learned this first hand in last month’s edition of the Electrician Forum when Steve Beeby of Beehive Electric discussed the balance required to own and operate an electrical contracting company.

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Watch a portion of the interview conducted by Electrical Industry Canada with Steve Beeby of Beehive Electric

 

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As our population grows and consumers continue to rely on technology for both essentials and comfort, the need for power quality has become vital. Fluke is a leader in this field, offering power quality training seminars, as well as employing power quality specialists with years of industry experience.

This month’s personal profile is a double feature of two of Fluke’s senior power quality specialists, Hilton Hammond and Frank Healy.

Hilton Hammond has been with Fluke since 1995, and in 2013 moved into his current position as Power Quality Business Unit Manager. He has a deep and thorough knowledge of power quality and related electrical instrumentation. 

Frank Healy, Power Quality Product Marketing Manager at Fluke since 2006, has been in the industry for well over three decades. He globally manages Fluke’s power quality products, including measuring instruments and precision power analyzers.

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