The Rebound Effect Illustrated: The Paradox of More Efficient ICT Usage

22.03.2024|Christian Kreutz

Information and comunication technologies are gaining tremendous prevalenace. Small computers it in cars, door locks, sensors and improve our daily life or make it more convient, but also drive up energy consumption. Proponents of the extensive usage of ICTs say that they will get faster more energy efficent and they contribute to mitigate climate change by using enery more intelligent. But so far the growth of digital devices is growing (e.g. displays and computing resources).

History and Predictions of Electric Consumption of Electric Displays in the EU

I found this fascinating chart for 2020 ICT Impact Study for the European Union that illustrates nicely the ongoing challenge that reduction in device uses (rarely the case so far) and energy efficient gains are eaten up by the extention usage of new devices. Display have a high share electricity usage compare to a normal running computer. As you can see in the chart telvsions and monitor have achived energy savings by turining of automaically into saving mode or efficient standby mode. But all this gain is eaten up by signage displays now occurring everyhwere in our lives. Parkhouse machine, house entrance login, advertisement bollboads etc. Yes, there were times where the television was the only screen one see in a whole day.

Much remains to be done to ensure that ICTs contribute to energy savings large enough to outweigh their own consumption.

Source: EU ICT Impact Study 2020