ITU universal power adapter will cut tech waste
29 October 2012
Standardised power supplies will enable gains in eco-efficiency and enhance consumer convenience by expanding the concept’s application to vast majority of ICT devices.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) members have agreed to first-stage approval (consent) of a new Universal Power Adapter (UPA) technical standard for devices such as modems, set-top boxes, home networking equipment and fixed telephones.
The standard will complement ITU’s very successful Universal Charging Solution for mobile devices (Recommendation ITU-T L.1000), enabling further energy savings, reductions in e-waste and enhanced consumer convenience by expanding the concept’s application to the vast majority of ICT devices.
ITU-T Study Group 5 – Environment and climate change – agreed the new draft Recommendation ITU-T L.1001 standardizing the requirements of ‘External universal power adapter (UPA) solutions for ICT equipment for stationary use’ at a recent meeting led by ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.
As with ITU-T L.1000, ITU-T L.1001 will also benefit countries not equipped with reliable AC power grids, as it will be compatible with standalone AC produced by renewable energy sources including the 5V and 12V power interfaces of small photovoltaic systems (solar energy).
Globally, Recommendation ITU-T L.1001 will reduce the number of power adapters that need to be manufactured by widening the range of compatible devices, facilitating adapter reuse and recycling, and increasing build-quality and resilience to overvoltages. Designed to promote an adapter lifespan of at least ten years, the new ITU standard will drive substantial reductions in energy consumption used in information and communication technology (ICT) equipment manufacture, limit device duplication, reduce strain on raw materials and enable enormous reductions in e-waste.
Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: “Our global standard for universal phone chargers received a very warm welcome from vendors and consumers, and I am certain that this new universal power adapter standard will enjoy the same worldwide success. These important environmentally-oriented standards will markedly reduce e-waste and greenhouse gas emissions, while saving money for vendors and consumers through more efficient use of raw materials and energy.”
A study carried out by the University of Genoa, commissioned by ITU and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), estimates that the widespread adoption of an energy-efficient UPA solution will eliminate an estimated 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. In addition, the study shows it could reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of external power supplies by between 25 and 50 per cent.
The new standard includes basic configurations and general requirements of UPAs and their interfaces: cable; connectors; voltage; current; ripple; noise; energy efficiency; safety; electromagnetic compatibility; resistibility and eco-environmental specifications. The UPAs are designed for ICT devices in people’s homes, and provide a low-voltage input to a device by converting the AC mains voltage to a low-voltage DC output.
Future capabilities could include compatibility with a DC interface from renewable energy systems or power sockets found in transportation systems (boats, trains, planes, buses, etc.).