15 May 2009

Regulated power?

Power supply specialists will no doubt be raising an eyebrow at a report which calls for government intervention in the design process.

The International Energy Agency's demand for government regulated power consumption comes on the back of some sobering figures. Apparently, there are more than 5.5billion power supplies sucking up energy to recharge the billions of devices in homes. This includes nearly 2billion tv sets and isn't helped by the fact that more than half of the global population subscribes to a mobile phone service. This figure is expected to triple by 2030 and, according to the IEA, the additional gadgets would mean a cost of $200bn to consumers.

Longer battery life and the integration of low power components are already a priority for many manufacturers. For example, the IEA's suggestion of designing boards so energy is used only when absolutely necessary, has already been addressed in Microchip's nanoWatt XLP range (the microcontrollers can attain sleep currents as low as 20nA).

So could government intervention work? Would the nanoWatt XLP range have been any different if it had been designed to conform with a government guideline?

I'm sure that the power sector has the nous to push the concept of greener design without the threat of regulations. Here's an idea. Why not recover the money from certain expense claims and pump it into green electronics design? A few lessons on managing ecodesign would surely benefit more people than the maintenance of an MP's moat.

Author
Chris Shaw

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