IT Has the Power to Green the World

Optimized Motors

Smart motor systems: A review of manufacturing in China has identified that without optimization, 10 percent of China's emissions (2 percent of global emissions) in 2020 will come from China's motor systems alone and that to improve industrial efficiency even by 10 percent would deliver up to 200 MtCO2 equivalent savings. Applied globally, optimized motors and industrial automation would reduce 0.97 GtCO2e in 2020, worth $107.2 billion.

The potential green benefits of information and communications technology doesn't end there. The Boston Consulting Group prepared an addendum to the SMART 2020 report showing that IT-enabled solutions could cut annual CO2 emissions in the United States by 13 to 22 percent from business-as-usual projections in 2020. This translates to a gross energy and fuel savings worth $140 to $240 billion -- equivalent to a reduction in oil consumption of 11 to 21 percent and a cut in oil imports of 20 to 36 percent.

The U.S. Addendum describes four main opportunities. First, a smart electrical grid built on better information and communication could reduce CO2 emissions 230 to 480 million metric tons (MMT), and save $15 to $35 billion in energy and fuel costs.

Second, more efficient road transportation could reduce travel time and congestion, eliminating 240 to 440 MMT of CO2 emissions and saving $65 to $115 billion.

Third, smart buildings that consume less energy could save 270 to 360 MMT of CO2 and save $40 to $50 billion.

Finally, travel substitution such as virtual meetings and flexible work arrangements could reduce CO2 by 70 to 130 MMT and save $20 to $40 billion.

As both reports highlight, in many cases the technology to achieve these savings already exists. However, economic, behavioral and informational challenges continue to stand in the way of realizing these gains, and markets have thus far been slow in adopting them. Achieving these reductions will therefore require more consistent and clearly defined government policy to speed progress.

The full report "SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age" and the U.S. Addendum can be downloaded at www.smart2020.org.

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