Tech wants to innovate in the service of energy sobriety

Berlin (AFP) – Portable solar panels, temperature regulators, “smart” radiators: at the IFA electronics fair in Berlin, tech is advancing its solutions to deal with the energy crisis, despite criticism of its carbon footprint.

The 2022 edition of the great German mass of technological innovations – the first since the Covid-19 pandemic – is placed under the sign of “energy efficiency”, in a context of soaring prices.

Exhibitors at the show, which ends on Tuesday, are convinced that ever more sophisticated devices can help regulate consumption.

Like Busch-Jaeger, an electronics company whose stand is lined with switches and small white screens.

This German firm, which belongs to the Swiss engineering group ABB, specializes in the connected “smart home”.

The idea: adapt the energy consumption of a home as well as possible, thanks to the processing of data as diverse as the ambient temperature, the luminosity or the quality of the air.

These devices are “increasingly in demand”, says Ulf Ehling, the company’s representative at IFA.

-“Madness”-

The radiators also want to be “intelligent”, like the rectangular, black and white devices presented by the Norwegian company Mill.

Thanks to a smartphone application, the user can control the ambient temperature of his home, according to the time of day.

According to Bashir Naimy, technical director of the company, the energy gain reaches “37% for a household”.

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This year again, the IFA is also presenting its procession of unusual gadgets, of a more or less indispensable nature: mini-fridge refreshing a drink in “two minutes” or odor generator allowing you to test perfumes sold online.

The French brand Y-Brush boasts of its “sonic” electric toothbrush, which looks like a denture, “capable of brushing all the teeth at the same time in 5, 10 or 15 seconds”.

But the visitors who wander along the aisles ensure that they keep a cool head, aware of the imperatives of sobriety.

“When you see how much all these objects consume, it’s madness,” says Justin, 23, who is nevertheless a computer enthusiast.

“We always have that in mind,” adds Christoph Böttger, 39, present with his companion.

The German government, like those of other European countries, is urging households and businesses to reduce their energy consumption to avoid the risk of shortages this winter and reduce their bills.

Germany has set a target to save 20% gas compared to previous years.

But “private consumers slightly increased their gas consumption during the slightly colder first week of September”, recently reprimanded the head of the federal network agency Klaus Müller, calling on individuals to make more efforts.

The pressure has mounted with the extension, announced on Friday, of the closure of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which delivers Russian gas to Germany.

-Solar charging-

“Smart home technologies can save energy,” says show manager Sara Warneke.

However, according to a report by the French Senate, published in 2020, the “growth in greenhouse gas emissions” of digital technology is driven by “the Internet of Things” – connected objects – and “data storage”.

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These two elements, pillars of the “connected home”, could boost the carbon impact of digital technology by “60% by 2040”, according to the report.

The Chinese company Ecoflow, present in many European countries including Germany and France, wants to resolve the contradictions with mini solar panels.

These devices, long foldable rectangles, transportable in a small bag, allow once unfolded and connected to a lithium battery, to generate energy.

Their small size makes it possible “to avoid asking for administrative authorization to install them”, comments Franko Fischer, spokesperson for the company. They can generate up to 2,700 Wh, enough to charge a computer, mobile or operate a hair dryer.

“We expect demand for solutions like ours to be strong among consumers in Europe, as people want to be independent, especially in times of crisis,” says Fischer.

In Germany, electricity prices rose on average by 31% in August year on year, according to the price comparator Check24.

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