Laptop Computers Use Less Operational Energy Over Life Than The Energy Required to Build Them

I saw Michael Cooney’s report, Layer 8: Computer factories eat way more energy than running the devices they build, linked on this morning. Cooney details a study from the Journal of Cleaner Production that establishes, at least with modes of production in 2002 of laptop computers by Dell, that the energy required to build a laptop is far greater than the total energy consumed by a laptop during its lifetime. Furthermore, recycling laptop components do not considerably recoup the energy of production. This means that making computers more efficient does save some energy use, but the best way to reduce energy use (and reduce carbon emissions) is to improve the production process and extend the lifespan of laptops. The latter is probably more likely than the former, because it is an energy intensive process to build computer components (at least with current technologies). I am looking at my MacBook in a different light now.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.