Climate Group Urges Smart Technologies - InformationWeek

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Commentary
11/18/2008
01:24 PM
Kevin Ferguson
Kevin Ferguson
Commentary
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Climate Group Urges Smart Technologies

The Climate Group, a global coalition of governments and businesses, today is expected to announce specific policy recommendations for the U.S. federal and state governments to use so-called "smart" monitoring and metering technology to reduce environmental damage.

The Climate Group, a global coalition of governments and businesses, today is expected to announce specific policy recommendations for the U.S. federal and state governments to use so-called "smart" monitoring and metering technology to reduce environmental damage.Collectively, says The Climate Group, the technology solutions offer CO2 reduction potential of 0.8 to 1.4 gigatons of CO2 and gross energy savings of $140 billion to $240 billion in the United States.

The recommendations are part of a U.S.-specific addendum to the global report SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, published in June. They include legislative suggestions that would make it easier for state public utility commissions to provide energy-efficiency incentives to their customers.

"The challenge now is identifying barriers at national, state and regional level and figure out what we need to do to overcome those barriers," says Climate Group's Molly Webb, project director of the SMART 2020 report. The report was written independently by The Climate Group at the request of Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), a consortium of information and communication technology companies that includes Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and 22 other telecomm and IT giants. Webb's report was based on analysis conducted by McKinsey & Co.

The June report and today's addendum, written by Boston Consulting Group, examine four areas in which technology can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions: industrial automation, logistics, buildings and energy grids. But while the initial report looked at individual case studies from around the world -- for example, electricity grids in India and industrial motors in China -- the addendum looks specifically at the United States to suggest improvements in all areas.

It should be noted that while Boston Consulting Group made its independent analysis, GeSI member companies would stand to gain if the report's recommendations were taken: The recommendations include fixed and mobile broadband technology.

Among the U.S. policy recommendations will be to deploy "smart logistics." In the June report, The Climate Group reported that "through a host of efficiencies in transport and storage, smart logistics in Europe could deliver fuel, electricity and heating savings of 225 [million tons CO2emissions]. The global emissions savings from smart logistics in 2020 would reach 1.52 gigatons of CO2, with energy savings worth $441.7 billion."

The addendum is also expected to suggest the creation of "center of excellence" to promote standard measurement for CO2, public-private collaboration, and the dissemination of information. That information will likely include data promoting the use of "smart grid" technology to monitor and manage peak demands and help pinpoint patterns of inefficiency. The June SMART 2020 report determined that smart grid technology could help reduce transmission and distribution losses in India's power sector by 30%. Applied globally, smart grid technologies were the largest opportunity found in the study and could globally reduce emissions by 2.03 gigatons of CO2 and save $124.6 billion, according to the report.

"[Regulation of the] generation, transmission and distribution sit within state public utility commissions, which need to understand the issues and ways in which they can integrate smart grid technology," says Adam Golodner, director, global policy and government affairs for Cisco. Golodner served first as the deputy administrator of the Rural Utilities Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, where he focused on rural telecoms and economic development issues.

Policy makers and business leaders are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., today to announce the SMART 2020 addendum.

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