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Data on China’s Computer Market Reveal Half of Models Already Meet ENERGY STAR Version 6

The California Energy Commission (CEC) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are in the process of setting the first minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for computers in the US. As part of this process, CEC and DOE are referring to the ENERGY STAR qualified product list to evaluate the energy consumption profile of computers and create appropriate policy measures. This product list, however, only provides a partial view of computer energy consumption on the US market. For a number of reasons, including qualification costs and non-qualifying power supplies, a significant number of desktop and laptop models are not typically registered under the ENERGY STAR program.  

To fill this information gap and contribute to a more comprehensive view of the market, CLASP and partners Fiona Brocklehurst and Jonathan Wood collected technical and performance data on China’s computer market. All computer models sold in China are required to be registered in a public online database, providing a more complete view of the market than is available in the US. Our analysis found that 47% of manufacturers listed in this database are also listed in the US database of ENERGY STAR-qualifying computers, and these manufacturers account for 79% of models sold in China. Thus, China’s computer market provides relevant insights for the US.

This report assesses the performance of computers in China’s database with reference to typical energy consumption (TEC) requirements for ENERGY STAR versions 5.2 and 6.0 to estimate the share of computers that could meet these requirements in the US. The analysis reveals the following key conclusions. As of August, 2013:

  • 92% of desktops and 98% of notebooks in the Chinese market could meet ENERGY STAR v5.2 TEC limits.
  • 49% of desktops in China’s market could meet energy consumption limits 30% lower than ENERGY STAR v5.2, which is roughly equivalent to ENERGY STAR v6.0.
  • 57% of notebooks could meet energy consumption limits 40% below ENERGY STAR v5.2, which is roughly equivalent to ENERGY STAR v6.0.

These results suggest that a large share of computers in the US market likely already meet ENERGY STAR v6 levels.  It is important to note, however, that due to differences in test methods, this study only examines energy consumption levels relative to ENERGY STAR v5.2, and extrapolates them to ENERGY STAR v6. In addition, the study focuses on typical energy consumption only; it does not assess the other ENERGY STAR requirements such as power supply efficiency and power management, as this information was not available in China’s database.

CLASP shared this analysis and an accompanying study, Energy Consumption of Gaming Computers in the US Market, with the DOE and CEC in October for consideration during their standard-development processes. CEC plans to release a draft of its proposed computer MEPS this month.

This report was written for CLASP by Fiona Brocklehurst of Ballarat Consulting and Jonathan Wood of Tenvic Ltd., with support from Pierre Delforge of NRDC. Chinese data was collected by Anson Wu of Hansheng Ltd.

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