Clean energy major focus for future technology, industry poll reveals

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 4 minutes
23 April 2015

LONDON: Green energy is the most important area for future technology, a new report states. The finding comes from Element14, an online community of engineers which surveyed 3,500 people from Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

“Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the potential of renewable technologies,” says Emily FarnworthRE100 Campaign Director, The Climate Group. “It is becoming easier for people to control their energy use through smart meters and generate their own energy as solar panels become more affordable.

“Leading technology companies like BT and Philips see the benefits of switching to 100% renewable, too. They have joined RE100 as a way to demonstrate their 100% renewable commitment  - not only because it makes good business sense, but also because they know its important for their customers.”

The study, Engineering a Connected World, focuses on the so-called ‘Internet of Things’, which refers to the increasing interconnection of everyday objects through electronic sensors and software which exchanges data between them. Renewable energy will be central to the development of interconnected objects in the future, the consumers and experts polled agree.

While healthcare is the primary focus at 68%, renewable energy follows by a mere 2%. Crucially, environment as a whole is believed to be the third main focus, with 56% of the respondents indicating it as a priority.

“There is no lack of evidence of the contribution that smart technologies can make,” underlines Ben Ferrari, Director of Partnerships, The Climate Group. “The SMART2020 report produced by The Climate Group and partners shows smart, digital and ICT-driven solutions for energy efficiency in buildings could potentially deliver global emission savings of 1.68 gigatons of CO2 in 2020, worth US$258 billion.

“We also investigated how technology can be used in cities to meet the growing demands of expanding urbanization. Our research demonstrated how a smart, technology-enabled city is a currently largely untapped source of clean-energy growth that can pay off hugely in the coming decades.”

The interconnected devices market is growing exponentially. According to the report, in 2003 there were just over 500 million connected devices in the world – representing 0.08 devices per person. By 2010, this number had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, accounting for almost six devices for every individual with access to the internet.

By the end of this decade, the report expects the number of these interconnected objects to exceed 50 billion.

These 50 billion objects of the future must be affordable (said 91% of the respondents), environmental friendly and based on clean energy (said 83%). Interestingly, according to the poll, renewable energy is considered the most important focus for future devices in Australia, while China and India are most concerned about the environment in general.

One of the most promising areas where interconnected objects can make a real difference is lighting, where new technologies help save energy, time and money.

Philips is implementing a full connected LED lighting transition in Buenos Aires – with 91,000 LED streetlights, all connected through ICT solutions. “Citizens are also indicating they feel safer because of the light quality,” says Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting.

“We have examples of interconnected LEDs in offices, where people become more productive without working more hours. These technologies not only save the planet, they also create a more lively and productive environment for all thus improving our sense of well-being.”

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by Ilario D'Amato

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