ICT Standardisation and Climate Change

Courtesy of J JMesserlyStandardisation of ICT solutions is an essential enabler for climate change. Whether it is for infrastructures supported by ICT (buildings, energy networks, logistics…) or ICT infrastructure itself (fixed and mobile networks, data centres, PC’s…and the various applications running on these…), interoperability of ICT products and services enable energy reduction in two ways: firstly by avoiding (or at least reducing) the need for development of interfaces between systems, which themselves require hardware to run, consuming unnecessary energy; secondly, they enable systems to last longer by facilitating the necessary extensions needed. This is extremely relevant in public procurement, which is a big consumer of ICT solutions: the sustainability of ICT solutions largely depends on the possibility to extend or upgrade these solutions through time, without being constrained by technical compatibility problems. This subsequently reduces the need for physical equipment that underlies electronic services delivery by increasing the lifecycle of the existing equipment.

The smart metering for electricity grids is another good example of infrastructure supported by ICT in which standardisation plays a key role in attaining the envisaged energy gains. The Commission has called upon Member States to agree by 2010 on minimum functional specifications for smart metering that will enable electricity network operators, suppliers and consumers to effectively manage their energy needs and to use ICT solutions for automated energy management. To this effect, the Commission has issued a standardisation mandate to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI for the development of an open architecture for utility meters involving communication protocols enabling interoperability. The achievement of such standardisation will be a major step in the advance towards Smart Grids, which is expected to be one of the foremost contributors to ICT-enabled energy abatement.

Finally, beyond ICT technical standards themselves for interoperability of ICT products and services, ICT presents a unique potential to facilitate the standardisation of the measurement, reporting and verification of energy consumption – not only for the ICT sector itself, but also for other industries. ICT can play a key role in elaborating systemic and standard monitoring frameworks to help achieve the EU 2020 targets. The ICT industry will take the lead in this area by establishing an ICT for Energy Efficiency Forum, with the aim of delivering a common framework by 2011 for measuring its own energy consumption and exceeding the EU 2020 targets by 2015.