Thursday, August 14, 2008

Energy costs drive green tech takeup

Consumers and businesses are looking to green technology to help manage rising energy costs.

High energy costs have put power bills at the forefront the minds of consumers and business managers. Electronics makers that develop energy efficient product lines and market them effectively to customers may get an edge in a gloomy global economy, firms have said.

"Going green is not only eco-friendly but crucial for business," said Kim Jik-soo, a spokesman at LG Electronics. "This goes beyond just products, extending throughout the development and manufacturing process."

Electronics firms are furiously developing energy efficient products and heavily promoting lines already on the market that use less electricity than competitors' brands.

In the computing industry, power-saving has long been a key priority as bigger and hungrier gadgets challenge battery life.

PC makers from Apple to Lenovo are replacing screens lit by conventional cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) with light emitting diode (LED) displays.

"LED saves up to 40 per cent of the power used in traditional backlights," said Jeff Kim, an analyst at Hyundai Securities. "Next year they will be commonly found in notebook screens, and will be increasingly used in TV panels from 2010."

LG recently released its Flatron W2252TE, which it claimed is the most energy-efficient monitor available. For IT PRO's review, click here.

Market researcher DisplaySearch expects LED-backlit displays to account for 50 per cent of notebook panels in 2010, up from 12 per cent this year. By 2015, all laptop displays will use LEDs, generating sales of $6 billion (£3.1 billion).

But too often, these energy-efficient products carry a hefty price premium to reflect the cost of developing new technologies, which in turn hampers faster adoption.

A US survey by Forrester Research last year found that green consumers, who agree to pay extra for electronics that use less energy or come from an environmentally friendly maker, are more brand-loyal than average consumers.

"More than 25 million US adults fall into this segment, enough for even the largest consumer electronics marketers to target," Forrester analyst Christopher Mines said.

"Green-targeted PCs and other electronics will evolve as part of the consumer electronics industry's move to go beyond 'beige box' design," he said. "Apple certainly leads the way here."

A green-technology product that establishes new benchmarks and appeals to concerned consumers "will have an iconic market presence if done right," Mines added.