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Television: Digital Switchover

Volume 687: debated on Friday 15 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the implications for energy consumption of the switchover from analogue to digital signals for television and radio receivers. [HL250]

Digital switchover is expected to have an impact on both transmitter power usage and consumer power usage.

Digital transmission is more efficient than analogue in terms of power usage. Replacing the analogue terrestrial transmission network with a nationwide digital terrestrial television network will lead to a significant net reduction in energy usage by the transmission networks, estimated to be 186 GWh per year.

Consumer power usage is expected to rise as a result of switchover, primarily because of the rapid increase in the take-up of set-top boxes, particularly for second sets, which would not be otherwise converted until replaced. The predicted level of the increase is dependent on a number of assumptions about usage and design of equipment in the market at the time of switchover. DCMS, DTI and Defra economists have estimated that the increase in consumer energy use of completing digital switchover in 2012 is likely to be between 966GWh and 2,816GWh per annum above that predicted for market take-up in the absence of a set switchover timetable. The increase is equivalent to a 0.37 per cent increase in domestic electricity consumption.

The central estimate for the total impact of switchover is a net increase of 1,705GWh per year, but this would be reduced if industry can be encouraged to make more energy-efficient products. Work on this is being taken forward as part of the DTI usability action plan.

Further details are contained in the Regulatory and Environmental Impact Assessment: The timing of digital switchover, published on 16 September 2005. This was placed in the Library of the House of Commons at the time of publication, and is also available at http://www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk/consultations/con_ria_timingods.html. There are currently no plans to switch from analogue to digital radio.