An Insight into ICT’s Energy Consumption and its Implications
The major components of an ICT infrastructure is hidden to the general public which creates a false perception that the ICT sector is energy efficient and a significant underestimate in its total energy consumption. This work is a preliminary investigation into the energy demand of the Nepali ICT sector. We present a statistical model to analyse the contribution of the ICT sector in the national energy consumption scenario with a specific focus on the telecommunication sector. Although the model leaves out some important dimensions due to lack of publicly available data, the stable regression model can easily be expanded to accommodate new dimensions (indicators). The results show that even with the most lenient assumptions regarding the behaviour of the ICT sector, it is a (statistically) significant consumer of energy. The hidden from public view is aided by the fact that the energy consumption of the present ICT sector is well below the transportation networks. However, the fast rise in prevalence of the personal computing devices (in households and offices) and expansion of communication networks (especially Telecoms) is likely to see ICT play a critical role in the national energy production framework within our lifetime. Globally the technological innovations have managed to reduce the energy consumption in smart technology applications such as power grids and transportation network with each generation. But it is struggling to keep up with the massive demand for greater performance. As with any technology, the solution to the energy problem is socio-technical rather than purely technological. The understanding of the context of energy use is as important as the technology that delivers energy savings. We therefore recommend that an energy audit of the ICT sector along with large scale studies on the context of technology use has to be done simultaneously. These have to precede the wholesale changes portrayed by the dreams of the ICT policy, e-governance master plan and the like1
1. Readers can see Martin Chautari (2014, 2015) for discussions on ICT policy regime and findings from stakeholders’ interviews.