Why Green Telecoms Are Essential To Fighting Climate Change

Telecom Energy Use: The Status Quo

The telecom sector consumes an estimated 2–3 percent of global energy currently. For context, emissions from the telecom sector are comparable to the entire aviation sector.

Transition to Green: The Challenges

The telecom sector will be key to our collective response to climate change. However, the switch to green telecoms will create challenges for companies. Here are the two biggest challenges companies will face.

Modernising infrastructure for energy efficiency

Energy is often one of the highest operational costs for telecom companies, ranging from 20–40 percent of network OPEX according to the GSMA. Reducing energy usage in telecoms is a win for both business and climate.

Decarbonising in the 5G era

The rollout of 5G infrastructure is accelerating worldwide. While security concerns may have dominated headlines, energy consumption is also a critical consideration in the 5G infrastructure rollout. The good news is that 5G technology is more energy-efficient than 4G networks. According to Nokia and Telefónica, 5G could be “up to 90 percent more energy efficient per traffic unit than legacy 4G networks”.

Transition to Green: The Solutions

Many green telecom companies have already recognised this challenge. Their strategy? To set emissions targets under the most acknowledged sustainability frameworks. According to the latest annual report by GSMA, “mobile operators covering 50 percent of global mobile connections and 65 percent of industry revenues have now committed to science-based targets”. They also state that “36 percent of the mobile industry by revenue have credibly committed to net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier”.

Towards Green Electricity Sourcing

Because emissions related to purchased electricity (Scope 2 emissions) represent a substantial part of the overall emissions of a telco, clean energy purchasing is critical to science-based and high-achieving decarbonisation strategies. The industry has many options available to make the switch to clean energy. These include:

  • Purchasing green power through Energy Attribute Certificates — GOs, RECs, I-RECs, TIGRs, etc.
  • Contracting Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and/or green tariffs
  • Installing on-site renewable generation.

Becoming true energy leaders — 24/7 carbon-free communication

Current official schemes that certify the aforementioned renewable products and purchases have been vastly successful in propagating renewable energy procurement in the private sector, however, they do not ensure real decarbonisation of the electricity that telecom companies consume. This is due to the poor visibility of the time in which the energy represented by the certificate was generated.

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FlexiDAO

FlexiDAO

FlexiDAO is a software provider in the energy sector aiming to accelerate the transition toward a decabornised world, leveraging on blockchain applications.