Representative Michael Honda (D-CA), who represents California’s Silicon Valley in the US House, reintroduced a bill this week to rein inthe rampant energy consumption of electronics, such as iPods, TVs andcomputers.
The proliferation of electronics could wipe out gains in energyefficiency across the world. Bby 2030, electronics could consume triplethe energy they use now – the equivalent of all the electricity consumed by households in the US and Japan combined, the International EnergyAgency (IEA) estimates.
Over 15,000 wind turbines (or 200 nuclear power plants) would have to be built just to power all the TVs, iPods, PCs and other home electronicsexpected to be plugged in by 2030. The electric bill to power householdelectronics would top $200 billion a year, compared with last year’sbill of $80 billion, says the IEA.
Under the bill, the DOE and EPA would standardize a process fordefining, categorizing, and ranking technologies as "smart," andwhether Energy Star (now used mostly for appliances) should be extendedto smart electronics.
Smart electronics are defined in the bill as consumer electronics withcharacteristics such as stand-by power, on-demand and variableprocessing speed semiconductors, off-peak operation and charging, andlow-power switchable modes.
The agencies would also be required to assess the global growth of electronics usage and the associated energy consumption.
"This proliferation of electronic devices, if not made more energyefficient, will undermine efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming," saysRepresentative Honda. "The answer to this problem will not be found instemming the tide of electronic gadget envy, no matter how functional or entertaining the device. The answer is found in better devices that are built more efficiently and run on less energy."
Most of this increase in consumer electronics will occur in developingcountries, where economic growth is outpacing developed nations andownership rates of gadgets are lowest.
"This legislation helps us green the electronics industry by providingthe private sector with reliable standards and incentives and byeducating and empowering consumers to make smarter and more efficientchoices – all of which help cool the planet," Honda adds.
Rep. Honda also introduced separate legislation to promote the development and commercialization of nanotechnology.
Under the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO)Act, the federal government would develop a roadmap, incentivesand research strategy designed to support the industry.
It also addresses concerns that have been raised about whether thefederal government is doing enough to address potential health andsafety risks associated with nanotechnology.
"Nanotechnology has the potential to create entirely new industries andradically transform the basis of competition in other fields," Hondasays.
A federal strategy for supporting the industry would help resolve theuncertainty that’s one of the major obstacles to commercialization -uncertainty about what the risks might be and uncertainty about how thefederal government might regulate nanotechnology in the future.
NANO draws on the work of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology,which Honda convened as a member of the House Sustainable Energy andEnvironment Coalition.
Some of the directives in the NANO Act include:
- create a public-private investment partnership to address the nanotechnology commercialization gap
- establish a tax credit for investment in nanotechnology firms
- establish grant programs for nanotechnology research to addressspecific challenges in the areas of energy, environment, homelandsecurity, and health
- establish a tax credit for nanotechnology education and training program expenses
- establish a grant program to support the development of curriculummaterials for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at highereducation institutions
- calls for development of a strategy for increasing interaction onnanotechnology interests between DOE national labs and the informalscience education community