All you gadget geeks out there toting around the newest Kindle, iPhone, iPod and laptop in your backpack, this one’s for you: The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that if governments don’t implement new policies to make sure that consumer electronics makers are putting in place the most energy-efficient systems, the world’s gadgets will suck up 1,700 terawatt-hours by 2030, at a cost of $200 billion in energy bills. Already consumer electronics make up 15 percent of residential electricity consumption, but because of population growth and our thirst for increasingly sophisticated and power-hungry gadgets — and more of them — that power usage will grow threefold by 2030.
According to the IEA’s executive director, Nobuo Tanaka, 1,700 TWh is equal to the current combined total residential electricity consumption of the U.S. and Japan — yeah, so no small number. And that power usage will need an additional generating capacity of 280 GW to accommodate it.
The good news is that through already available hardware and software, consumer electronic power usage could be cut in half, says the IEA. The largest improvement will come through making software work more effectively on the devices, ensuring that energy is consumed only when needed. Software and chip entrepreneurs, looking for a place of innovation in the cross over between IT and green, making gadgets consume less energy could be an interesting play.