From portable solar panels to smart thermostats and “smart” heaters, exhibitors at Berlin’s IFA tech show are touting smart solutions for a world starved of energy.
But smart gadgets sometimes belie their heavy carbon footprint.
The motto of the 2022 edition of Germany’s high-tech fair – the first since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – is “energy efficiency”, a timely mission with soaring electricity prices.
One such exhibitor who thinks he has the answer is Busch-Jaeger, whose booth is lined with light switches and small blank screens.
The German company, owned by the Swiss group ABB, has become a specialist in “smart home” technologies.
Their idea: to regulate the home’s energy consumption based on a stream of data, including the current room temperature, room brightness and air quality.
Such devices are “increasingly sought after” as the cost of energy soars in Europe, says Ulf Ehling, who is responsible for presenting the company’s technology at IFA.
A few hundred meters away, the Norwegian company Mill offers “smart” black and white radiators.
Thanks to a smartphone application, users can monitor the temperature of their accommodation throughout the day.
According to Bashir Naimy, Mill’s technical director, the device can help save “37% of a household’s energy”.
The IFA also has regular displays of quirky gadgets, including a fridge that chills a drink in “two minutes” or a scent generator to buy perfume online.
French company Y-Brush took to IFA to tout a “sonic” toothbrush that looks like a denture, which is “capable of brushing all teeth at once in 5, 10 or 15 seconds”.
Visitors to the show, which ends on Tuesday, are however concerned about the issue of energy use.
“When you see how much all these devices consume, it’s crazy,” says Justin, 23, a technology enthusiast, who came to Berlin especially for the show.
“We always think about it,” says Christoph Boettger, 39, who came with his partner.
European energy prices have soared in recent months following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent throttling of gas supplies to Germany from Moscow.
The German government launched an energy saving campaign and tried to set an example by reducing the temperature in public buildings, among other measures.
The energy conundrum escalated last week as Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would not restart gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after a scheduled three-day maintenance, blaming Western sanctions.
“Internet of Things”
“Smart home technologies can help save energy,” said Sara Warneke, director of IFA organizers, on Friday.
But what is the real balance sheet of these new energy technologies?
According to a 2020 French Senate report, the “growth in greenhouse gas emissions” of digital technologies is driven by the “internet of things” – web-connected home electronics – and “data storage”. .
The two together could lead to a 60% jump “in the carbon impact of digital technologies by 2040”.
Despite the individual energy-saving potential, the total impact of these technologies may be greater than it appears.
Chinese company Ecoflow, which has offices across Europe, hopes to resolve the contradiction with mini solar panels.
The long foldable rectangles carried in a special case can be used to charge a lithium battery.
Their portability means that users “do not need administrative authorization to install them”, says Franko Fischer, spokesperson for Ecoflow.
The panels can generate 2,700 Wh, enough to charge a computer, mobile phone or hair dryer.
“We expect European consumers to have a strong demand for solutions like ours, because people want to be independent, especially in times of crisis,” says Fischer.
In Germany, the cost of electricity rose by an average of 31% in the year to August, according to price comparison site Check24.
Germany puts two nuclear power plants on standby in an energy turnaround
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Berlin tech fair faces the era of energy scarcity (September 6, 2022) Retrieved September 6, 2022 from https://techxplore.com/news/2022-09-berlin-tech-era-energy -scarcity.html
This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair use for purposes of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.