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‘Internet of Things’ Can Cut CHG Emissions 19%, Report Finds

| March 3, 2013

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies could help reduce global GHG emissions by 9.1 billion metric tons by 2020, equivalent to 18.6 percent of global GHG emissions in 2011, according to a report by AT&T and the Carbon War Room.

“M2M” refers to technologies that facilitate connectivity of physical infrastructure and devices — the so-called industrial internet, or internet of things. This will reduce the amount of energy and fuel required to perform tasks, thus lowering GHG emissions without restricting production or economic growth, the report explains.

Machine-to-Machine Technologies: Unlocking the Potential of a $1 Trillion Industry says global M2M device adoption will skyrocket between now and 2020, from 1.3 billion to 12.5 billion devices, and says larger enterprises are adopting M2M at a greater rate than small and medium businesses (see chart).

These technologies will also make society more efficient, which the report says is a “money-making endeavor.” The report predicts connected machines will generate cost savings and new revenues that could add $10-$15 trillion to global GDP.

By 2020, M2M applications look most promising and profitable in four sectors, according to the report. These are:

  • Energy: M2M such as smart-grid technologies could save more than 2 billion metric tons of CO2e in the energy sector. M2M can also facilitate the switch to renewable energy, thus further reducing emissions.
  • Transportation: M2M could save about 1.9 billion metric tons of CO2e by making planes, trains, trucks and ships more efficient.
  • The built environment: This sector could use M2M to save 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2e, by increasing energy efficiency of heating, cooling and ventilation, lighting, electronics, appliances and security systems.
  • Agriculture: M2M could save 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2e by reducing deforestation, and increasing efficiency of planting, seeding, harvesting, fertilizer use and water use.

But a lack of universal standards for M2M applications and hardware and a lack of performance data, in addition to marketing challenges and a long sales cycle, present barriers to scaling M2M technologies, the report found.

To overcome these barriers, the report suggests convening experts to work on universal standards. It also recommends that companies offering M2M technologies build data collection and analytics into their offerings, and create new business models and sales strategies.

In a report published in late 2012, GE said the industrial internet could boost energy efficiency and account for more than $82 trillion in economic activity by 2025, Energy Manager Todayreports.

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