Press ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ on green computers vote, say clean energy groups

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MEPs will vote tomorrow (28 February) on proposals for binding energy efficiency standards for computers and servers, but clean energy groups say that without more ambitious targets the whole exercise could be a "waste of time".

The proposed legislation sets energy consumption goals for 2014 that the Commission argues will save at least 15TWh (terawatt hours) of energy per year by 2020 – the yearly electricity consumption of nine million people, equivalent to about six million tonnes of CO2.

But the Coolproducts association says the bar has been set so low that most home computers are already beneath it.

“Looking at current data, it is clear that Europe can and should boost the ambition of energy efficiency requirements for computers,” said Stephane Arditi from the Coolproducts campaign.

“The proposed targets from the European Commission will hardly make any impact because most manufacturers already overtook the targets last year.”

If generous energy consumption allowances for graphics cards are not voted out of the proposal tomorrow, the consumer group warns that it could actually cause an energy price rise.

Instead, an NGO alliance the group has formed with the European Environment Bureau and Ecos is proposing a raft of alternative measures, including:

  • A general tightening of technology requirements on computers by between 20-50%
  • More focus on resource efficiency and reducing toxic computer components
  • Provisions for extending computer lifespans
  • Reducing ‘sleep mode’ limits to 2.5W for desktop PCs and 1.5W for notebooks
  • Minimum requirements for computer and plastics recycling, extension of computer lifespans, early disassembly, hazardous content, lifecycle assessments, and standardization of batteries

The vote is taking place under the Ecodesign initiative which is meant to turn the tap on wasteful energy and resource use.

To reduce the environmental impact of products from the design phase onwards, the EU adopted a Framework Directive on setting Eco-design Requirements for Energy-using Products in 2005

>> Read EURACTIV LinksDossier on ecodesign

The European Commission was mandated to define minimum energy efficiency performance requirements on a product-specific basis. But no deadlines were set for implementation.

The first 19 energy-using product groups for which energy-efficiency standards were established - including heating equipment, lighting, domestic appliances and electric motors - were selected during a transitional phase after the adoption of the directive in July 2005.

In July 2008, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive extending the scope of the ecodesign rules to cover other energy-using products.

A further 10 'product families' were identified, 17 preparatory studies were launched, and the Commission says these are expected to result in "possible regulations in 2012".

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