Tech giants team up to tackle emissions from connected devices

According to Statista, the number of connected devices worldwide is set to almost triple from 9.7 billion in 2020 to more than 29 billion in 2030

The group has formed a secretariat – led by the Carbon Trust – to develop an “industry-first” specification for measuring, accounting for and cutting the emissions associated with connected devices while they are being used by customers.

Globally, connected devices – which include any device that can connect to another or a network via the internet – have an annual electricity consumption similar to that of France. This product category includes devices like phones, speakers, laptops and other home appliances, which combined used 500TWh of energy in 2020, according to the International Energy Association.

As the number of these devices increases globally, as well as the demand for data, reducing their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is becoming a key focus for the industry.

A device’s ‘use phase’, or the time it spends being used by the consumer, accounts for up to 85% of its total carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle.

This includes battery-powered smart devices, and those plugged into the wall within a customer’s home. Many of these devices can remotely report energy use, providing an opportunity to significantly improve the accuracy of energy consumption estimates.

The new group aims to produce an accurate baseline for reporting energy efficiency improvements.

It also wants to establish rules for matching electricity consumption with renewable energy generation and apply technology to optimise the energy use of connected devices by consumers.

This means that a significant portion of the 500TWh could be reduced, and additional renewable electricity capacity created.

Development of the secretariat officially begins in September 2022, and it is open to new members for a limited period. It is expected to be completed in 2023, when the specification will be made publicly available to support an industry-wide drive towards net-zero.

Carbon Trust’s managing director Hugh Jones said: “The connected device industry is innovative, advanced and ambitious. It has a critical role to play in net-zero progress.

“This product-level approach will provide an open, credible, and united methodology on device data measurement to help drive down use-phase emissions across the sector.

“We are excited to be at the forefront of this cross-industry collaborative effort. If you are a device manufacturer or retailer that would like to get involved in the development of the methodology, please get in touch.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie