The European Commission announced Tuesday that it would promote the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve energy efficiency throughout the economy, starting with buildings, lighting and the power grid.
"To meet Europe's energy efficiency goals by 2020, we need a high-growth, low-carbon economy. Research and rapid take-up of innovative energy efficient ICT solutions will be crucial to lowering emissions across the whole economy," said Viviane Reding, European Union (EU) commissioner for information society and media.
"There is a win-win situation in which ICT will promote the competitiveness of EU industry while leading the fight against climate change," she said.
ICT can make the management of power grids more efficient and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources, says the Commission, the executive body of the EU.
Energy generation and distribution uses one third of all primary energy. Electricity generation could be made more efficient by 40 percent and its transport and distribution by 10 percent, it said.
The heating, cooling and lighting of buildings account for more than 40 percent of European energy consumption. ICT can continuously monitor data to optimize lighting, ventilation and equipment performance and provide consumers real-time updates on their energy consumption to stimulate behavioral changes.
In Finland, this smart metering encouraged consumers to increase energy efficiency by 7 percent, said the Commission.
Twenty percent of world electricity is used for lighting. Changing to energy efficient light bulbs could halve today's energy consumption for lighting by 2025, it said. Intelligent light bulbs, which automatically adjust to natural light and people's presence will have an even greater effect.
Apart from the three sectors, the Commission will encourage the ICT industry to demonstrate leadership in reducing its own carbon dioxide emissions.
The Commission is also launching a consultation and aims to team up with a wide variety of organizations on energy efficiency. Cities are to be considered a priority as they consume over 75 percent of the world's energy and produce 80 percent of its carbondioxide emissions.