Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mobile Networks Are Capturing Significant Energy Efficiency Gains

Despite considerable growth in mobile connections and traffic, total network energy consumption of leading mobile networks worldwide increased only slightly from 2009 to 2010, according to the GSMA. Based on analysis of 34 mobile networks worldwide, GSMA calculates that the total energy per unit traffic declined by approximately 20 percent and energy per connection declined by five percent over this period, indicating that the industry is making strong progress towards its goal of reducing its total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per connection by 40 percent by 2020.

The analysis is an update to the GSMA's "Mobile Green Manifesto" which outlines the positive impact of operator initiatives in the areas of energy and carbon management. Some highlights:

  • If all networks with above average energy consumption are improved to the industry average, there is a potential energy cost saving for mobile operators of $1 billion per annum at 2010 prices; improving to the top quartile could save over $2 billion annually.

  • Smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices are beginning to connect everything from cars to health services and even entire cities, which will have a positive impact on many industries. Through these and other developments, the mobile industry today

  • Mobile technology is enabling significant reductions in GHG emissions and energy costs across a range of sectors of the economy, and the opportunity exists for mobile to enable even further savings. Approximately 26 million mobile M2M connections worldwide are enabling GHG emissions savings estimated to be about 3 million tonnes (Mt) of CO(2)e annually.

  • The US and Canada together comprise 50 per cent of mobile M2M connections and 38 per cent of global GHG emissions savings;

  • Asia Pacific accounts for 23 per cent of M2M connections and 30 per cent of emissions savings; and

  • Western Europe represents 17 per cent of connections and 23 per cent of GHG savings.

  • Global mobile M2M connections in smart grids, smart meters and fleet management are forecast to grow strongly, at 30 to 40 per cent per annum, reaching approximately 100 million mobile M2M connections(4) worldwide by 2015. This would result in possible GHG savings of 18 Mt CO(2)e.

  • Mobile has the potential to enable much greater emissions savings of at least 900 Mt CO(2)e in 2020, which is 1.7 per cent of the global 2020 GHG emissions forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its "business-as-usual" scenario;

  • Emissions savings in 2020 will result from the use of 3.5 billion mobile M2M connections(7) and also from mobile dematerialisation applications, where travel, products and processes are substituted by virtual alternatives.

"This is the first ever detailed global estimate of mobile network energy consumption and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO(2)e) emissions and it shows that the mobile industry is making progress in reducing its own emissions and energy costs, as well as those in other industry sectors," said Gabriel Solomon, Head of Regulatory Policy, GSMA. "Mobile can enable savings through a range of smart applications and can contribute to a reduction of total emissions that is at least four to five times its own carbon footprint."
  • In November 2009, the GSMA published its "Mobile's Green Manifesto" -- a position paper that sets out how the mobile industry should lower its greenhouse gas emissions per connection, and demonstrates the key role that mobile communications can play in lowering emissions in other sectors and industries. Specific goals listed in 2009 included:

    To reduce its total global greenhouse gas emissions per connection by 40% by 2020 compared to 2009. This forecast covers all emissions from energy sources under the control of the mobile operators, including energy consumption from the radio network, buildings, and energy consumption and emissions from transport.

    Carbon neutral growth. The number of mobile connections is set to rise by 70% to 8 billion by 2020 as the industry builds out a new generation of mobile broadband networks, bringing billions of people into the information economy. Despite this growth, the mobile industry forecasts that, through its activities, its total emissions will remain constant at 245 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e) - equivalent to 0.5% of total global emissions in 2020, or the greenhouse gas emissions of the Netherlands.

    To work with handset vendors to ensure that the energy consumed by a typical handset, in standby and while being used, is reduced by 40% by 2020.

    To work with equipment vendors to ensure that the life cycle emissions of network equipment components are reduced by 40% by 2020.