In an environment where economic and political actors are increasingly taking climate urgency and environmental planning into consideration, the unprecedented geopolitical situation brought about by the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the challenge that energy dependency poses. France and Europe are preparing to face an unprecedented energy crisis in the coming months.
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In France, the whole of society—both businesses and private individuals—is being urged to take measures to save energy, electricity in particular. In this context, the Government is strongly encouraging all sectors to take steps to reduce electricity consumption by 10% over the next two years and reduce electricity consumption should demand peak over the course of the coming winter. The digital sector is no exception, and the Minister for Digital Transition and Telecommunications, Jean-Noël Barrot, formally called on our ecosystem to do its part at the end of July 2022. According to a study by ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency), « on average, in service companies, administrations and local authorities, the electricity consumption of IT equipment represents 24.7% of total electricity consumption.« Digital technology’s share is not negligible; every action counts!
In response to this request, Cigref set up a task force led by Christophe Boutonnet, Deputy Director of Digital at the Environment, Energy, Territories and Sea Ministries, to identify measures that digital departments could take to eliminate IT systems’ non-priority electricity consumption, either temporarily or permanently, especially should demand peak this coming winter. Reflections on reducing energy consumption and the environmental impact of digital technology in the medium and long term will continue in various transversal Cigref activities throughout the year as a continuation of the work already produced, such as with the « 100 best practices to support digital sobriety approaches in organisations », published in 2020, which may also be a more detailed source of operational practices.
In this document, the actions to take have been referenced according to companies’ three main sources of digital energy consumption: User equipment, Data centres (on premises), and Networks.
These actions are then divided into two categories:
- « Eco-gesture »-type actions that should be done every day, some of which are already being monitored over time by organisations as part of their « digital responsibility » approach,
- Actions to be taken in peak demand, which correspond to the « EcoWatt » alerts allowing consumption to be shifted when the electricity network is tense (orange alert) or very tense with a risk of blackouts (red alert). The « MonEcoWatt » service developed by RTE in partnership with the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) provides real-time information on national electricity consumption and suggests a number of eco-actions to take, particularly during periods of tension on the electricity network (8 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.). An alert system informs users in advance of periods of high tension on the electricity network and the risk of power cuts. A dedicated mobile application is planned for release in early winter.
Finally, an inventory of energy consumption data from public sources is included in the appendix. It identifies the main consumption items for IT infrastructure and equipment. Since the consumption data for equipment and infrastructure still lacks consistency, this inventory reflects orders of magnitude with lingering rates of uncertainty. It can help to make broad-based assessments but does not allow for precise measurements at this stage.
Nota bene: Each organisation should adjust the measures in this framework to their size and context, since not all organisations have the same data centre equipment or hosting issues. This framework only covers the equipment and infrastructures that fall under the control of IT departments. Thus, it excludes the management of tertiary buildings (which fall under the responsibility of the organisation’s general services) and the scope of cloud computing. The measures apply to both on-site and remote work.
 ADEME, « Consommation énergétique des équipements informatiques en milieu professionnel« , 2015: https://librairie.ademe.fr/urbanisme-et-batiment/2431-livre-blanc-consommation-energetique-des-equipements-informatiques-en-milieu-professionnel.html
 Cigref, in partnership with The Shift Project, « Digital Sobriety: a responsible corporate approach », 2020: https://www.cigref.fr/digital-sobriety-a-responsible-corporate-approach