Rio+20 Business Focus: Intel on how IT can cut carbon and boost profits

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RTCC is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

In this article, blue-chip IT firm Intel, explains how the sector can enable massive global emission cuts.

Recent studies have estimated the ICT industry’s contribution to the world’s energy and carbon footprint to be 2% and rising.

A major focus of government policy in recent years has been on reducing the growth of ICT’s direct footprint.

Smart technologies could cut the need for US oil imports by 36%. (Source: Intel)

Many of these same studies, however, have highlighted the significant role ICT can play in reducing the footprint of the rest of society – the other 98% – through the energy efficiency gains such technologies can help enable.

The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) in 2008 produced a report entitled, “Smart 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age” that found that ICT strategies could reduce global carbon emissions by up to 15% in 2020 against a baseline of business as usual.

A 2008 Boston Consulting Group report found that smart technologies have the potential to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by as much as 22% by 2020 through the concerted application of broadband and ICT in four areas: Smart Power Grids, Smart Roads, Smart Buildings and Travel Substitution.

A 22% reduction would mean $240 billion in cost savings or a reduction of 36% in imported oil.

Similar reports have been completed for China and India through the Digital Energy Solutions Campaign (DESC).

If integrated into the economy, ICT can potentially reduce carbon emissions in China by 13-18% of the intensity reduction targets by 2020. An example of this is in the industrial sector which consumes approximately 70% of China’s energy.

Zhejiang SUPCON Technology Ltd, a pioneer in “smart motor” technologies, provides total ICT solutions and products across industrial sectors and public utilities.

ICT has the potential to cut industrial emissions in the developed and developing worlds. (Source: Intel)

The applications of its intelligent plant automation system (InPlant) has been installed in over 6,000 worldwide facilities of oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, electric power generation, cement, pulp and paper, and metallurgy.

The improved industrial process automation through the system has given significant economic and environmental benefits to users by averagely increasing 19.2% of product quality and improving 13.5% of productivity resulting in reduced energy consumption by 3-5% and reduced waste.

At the national level, emission reduction potential from ICT enabled smart motors is 286 MtCO2 in 2020.

In India, ICT solutions can lead to emission reductions of 8-10% of the estimated GHG emissions in 2030 for specific sectors.

Street lighting in India constitutes about 13% of the country’s total electrical energy consumption.

Considering that there are a vast number of streets connected to a common line, it is a cumbersome task to maintain and control these systems.

In this respect, implementation of ICT enabled advanced technology solutions can provide for greater convenience in street lighting management and quality, apart from delivering energy savings due to enhanced energy efficiency of lighting equipment.

A smart street lighting energy conservation project implemented by Bangalore Development Authority reduced energy consumption of the town towards street lighting to the tune of 40-45%.

Assuming street light energy consumption of 450 terawatt hours in 2030 in the business as usual scenario, ICT-enabled street lighting management systems can reduce energy consumption by as much as 135 terawatt hours, resulting in emission reductions to the tune of 116 MtCO2 in 2030.

Intel Corporation is the world’s largest semiconductor company and the leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Intel believes that climate change is not only an environmental issue, but an important societal challenge that warrants a serious policy response. Intel’s contribution to meeting this challenge includes mitigating our own impact, leading our industry and engaging at the policy level.

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