Energy consumption of ICT

Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including data centres, communication networks and user devices, accounted for an estimated 4-6% of global electricity use in 2020. Increasing demand for ICT is expected to lead to an increase in global ICT energy use over the next decade. Experts have highlighted ongoing improvements in the energy efficiency of the technology. However, there is limited evidence on the energy use of ICT, and a significant degree of uncertainty in existing estimates. This POSTnote summarises estimates of the energy used across the ICT sector and trends that may affect it. It discusses developments in energy efficiency and issues related to energy reporting and standards.

Energy consumption of ICT

The impact of digital technology on arts and culture in the UK

This POSTnote provides an overview of the impact of digital technology on the arts and culture sector in the UK. It focuses on the uses of emerging digital technologies and the impact of COVID-19 on stakeholders. It summarises the policy priorities, challenges and barriers in accessing technology in the sector.

The impact of digital technology on arts and culture in the UK
  • POSTbrief

    Geothermal energy

    Geothermal energy is a source of low-carbon, homegrown, renewable energy. It is available throughout the UK and can provide heat or power all year long independent of weather conditions. It currently delivers less than 0.3% of the UK’s annual heat demand, using only a fraction of the estimated available geothermal heat resource. There is the potential to increase this proportion significantly, but this will require long-term government support to develop a route to market and overcome high upfront capital costs and geological development risks.

  • POSTnote

    Financial risks of nature loss

    Nature loss poses risks to the financial sector via the businesses they invest in, lend to, advise and insure. The financial risks of nature loss are embedded within the financial systems but are little understood or addressed by financial institutions. The POSTnote will outline the current understanding of the type and scale of the financial risks of nature loss and look at potential mechanisms to improve company level reporting and mitigation of both the financial risks of nature loss, and nature loss itself.

  • POSTbrief

    Mining and the sustainability of metals

    The mining and processing of minerals underpins modern technology and infrastructure. Each year, over 3.3 billion tonnes of metals are produced globally, and most predictions of demand show increasing consumption of metals in the coming decades, including in renewable energy generation, electric vehicles and batteries. The transition of the world’s economies and industries to more sustainable energy and technologies will require more mining and processing of non-renewable mineral resources, with associated positive and negative impacts on the environment and society.

  • POSTnote

    Sharing public sector data

    Sharing public sector data can improve public services, facilitate research and innovation, and inform policymaking. However, public sector bodies face challenges when sharing data, both within the public sector and externally. These include cultural and skills barriers, poor data quality, and lack of public trust. Sharing public sector data also raises security and privacy concerns. This POSTnote looks at how public sector data is shared in the UK, discussing the requirements for effective data sharing and the associated benefits, risks, and barriers.

  • POSTnote

    Smart Cities

    "Smart cities" describes places that incorporate a range of technologies (especially those that collect and use data) to address economic, social, and environmental challenges. Projects usually take place in urban areas, but are also deployed in rural settings. This POSTnote looks at smart city innovation in the UK and the technologies involved. It considers the factors driving the adoption of smart city technologies, and the potential benefits, barriers and risks associated with their implementation.

  • POSTnote

    Energy sector digitalisation

    The incorporation of digital technologies in the energy sector can support progress towards key UK objectives such as achieving Net Zero emissions targets. It can also transform current methods of energy generation, transmission, regulation, and trading. This POSTnote presents an overview of key digital technologies and their main applications in the energy sector. It provides an overview of the potential benefits to using these technologies, and recent developments in this area. It describes the role of data in underpinning digital technologies in the sector, and some of the issues raised by its use. It also discusses broader challenges associated with energy sector digitalisation and measures that could help address them, including issues related to technology, regulation, and impact on consumers.

  • POSTnote

    Defence of space-based assets

    Space-based assets (satellites and the terrestrial ground stations that communicate with them) provide critical support to military and civilian operations. They are vulnerable to unintentional damage and disruption, and to deliberate attack. This POSTnote outlines how the UK uses and accesses satellites, potential risks to satellites, and approaches to mitigation.

  • POSTnote

    Low-carbon hydrogen supply

    Hydrogen could play a significant role in tackling climate change. Using it does not produce carbon dioxide, so it could replace fossil fuels in a range of applications. It may also provide valuable energy storage. However, almost all hydrogen production currently results in greenhouse gas emissions. Methods of producing it that do not emit greenhouse gases would need to increase for it to contribute to climate change mitigation. Governments and industry in the UK and abroad are aiming to increase low-carbon hydrogen supply. The UK Government will publish a Hydrogen Strategy in 2021.

  • POSTnote

    Developing essential digital skills

    Digital skills are increasingly important for day-to-day life, including for communication, accessing services and employment. However, around a fifth of the population do not have essential digital skills for life as defined by the UK Government. While research suggests the number of people with basic digital skills has increased in recent years, concerns remain about those who lack them. Experts have highlighted that digitally excluded people may experience various negative impacts, including poorer health outcomes and social isolation This POSTnote gives an overview of digital skills in the UK, the impact of a lack of digital skills on outcomes in areas such as employment and health, and initiatives in place to improve digital skills.

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