Plasma screen TVs sap energy supplies

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The Independent Online

Britain's seemingly insatiable appetite for the latest plasma screen televisions could be posing a serious threat to the planet, a technology expert has warned.

If just half of British homes were to buy one of the flat-screen sets, two more nuclear power stations would be needed to meet the extra energy demand - with all the environmental problems that would bring.

The new sets use up to four times as much electricity as the old-style cathode-ray tube TVs, which is where the problem lies. Even so, the sets sold fast during this summer's football World Cup, with one reportedly being sold every 15 seconds.

Dr Joseph Reger, chief technology officer at Munich-based Fujitsu Siemens Computers, said: "If all the [plasma] TVs were on at the same time, you would need something that produces 2.5 gigawatts. That can be done today with around two nuclear power stations."

Once all the other elements of the "digital home", such as DVD players, set top boxes and ever-more powerful computers are factored in, there is a serious long-term energy issue to be addressed.

Growing electricity demands are already placing a strain on the UK's power stations. A quarter of all carbon emissions in Britain are due to appliances in the home - roughly the same amount as transport. Simply leaving devices on standby in the home puts hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon a year into the atmosphere.