The telecom industry needs to improve energy efficiency, so it can transmit more information without driving a massive increase in energy consumption, says Ryan Ding, President of Carrier BG, Huawei in his recent address on Green ICT for New Value at the Win-Win conference.
The telecom industry which supports other business verticals to decarbonize and reach the net-zero target has a massive responsibility in reducing its carbon emissions and enhancing the energy efficiency of its own solutions, equipment and processes.
“According to third-party research, data traffic generated by digital services is expected to grow to 612 ZB, a 13-fold increase, by 2030. This means that, if energy efficiency improvements are not made, the ICT industry’s energy consumption and carbon emissions will see a 2.3-fold increase. According to ITU, the ICT industry must reduce its carbon emissions by at least 45% by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal. In the next five to ten years, the increase in carbon emissions generated by exploding data traffic will become a global problem that must be tackled,” emphasized Ryan Ding.
Enhancing Energy Efficiency: Win-Win Proposition
There is then an urgent need for the service providers to improve the energy efficiency of their networks and operations. Ding brought forth three steps in which the operators can reduce their total carbon emissions. The first step is to improve the energy efficiency of their sites, operations and networks based on their analysis of traffic generation patterns.
“Second, they need to reduce their total carbon emissions, absolute power consumption, and increase their use of "green" electricity. Lastly, they must support the establishment of a unified indicator system, as this would help establish baselines against which energy efficiency can be measured,” says Ding.
These initiatives will not just help the environment but will also benefit the operators. Ding highlights three key benefits for the operators. “First, user migration, site upgrades, and network power reduction will bring them direct OPEX savings. Second, improved energy efficiency will support the migration of 2G and 3G users to 4G and 5G services. Third, operators’ efforts to reduce carbon footprint will positively impact the environment, helping them better fulfil their social responsibilities,” elaborated Ding.
Huawei has introduced a three-layer solution to help the service providers boost the green efficiency of their networks and operations.
The first part of the solution is that it has adopted a highly integrated design, using new materials, and moving main equipment and power supply units outdoor. Secondly, the simplified network architecture makes it easier to quickly construct an all-optical, simplified and intelligent network. Further, Huawei offers a solution that generates and distributes optimization policies while making energy efficiency more visualized and manageable.
Huawei’s green solutions have been validated by service providers in more than 100 countries and is helping them bring down their operational expenditure while making them more energy efficient. For instance, Huawei has deployed its green site solution for a customer in Turkey, replacing their equipment rooms with cabinets and eliminating the need for equipment rooms and air conditioners. This is expected to save 19,000 kWh of electricity per site per year.
Ryan Ding, President of Carrier BG, Huawei
Boosting Carbon Handprint
Improving energy efficiency not only allows service providers to benefit from it but also enables emissions reductions in other industries that are ten times the size of the ICT industry’s own emissions. Ding revealed that Huawei is working with its operator partners to empower different industry verticals to reduce carbon footprints by using industry-specific solutions.
“The Port of Tianjin built an automated fleet consisting of 76 unmanned container trucks by using 5G provided by China Mobile and autonomous driving technologies, which can drive smoothly within a limited area. The benefits of this solution are tangible: Power consumption per container in the automated driving area is down by 20%, overall operation costs are down 10%, and operation efficiency is up by 15%,” says Ding. He also shared the examples of Jinnan Iron and Steel and Zhunneng Group which were leveraging 5G-based solutions to improve operational efficiency leading to massive savings.
Considering Huawei’s efforts to help service providers enhance the energy efficiency of their operations, it is not surprising that it is working to make its own production and operations more sustainable.
“In our factories in China, for example, we are using more and more renewable energy to achieve green production. At Huawei’s Southern Factory in Dongguan, almost all of the rooftops are covered with distributed solar panels, which together offset over 30,000 tons of carbon emissions every year,” says Ding.
“We are also working to increase the energy efficiency of our operations. For example, we have been building centralized labs to replace our older decentralized research infrastructure. Our new energy-saving technologies are helping bring the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of our labs from 2 to 1.24, saving more than 290 million kWh of electricity every year. Our Chengdu research center is now fully powered by renewable energy. Every year, over 200 million kWh of hydropower is supplied to the center, equivalent to offsetting 177,000 tons of carbon emissions,” he added.
In the end, he called on the whole industry to be more mindful of energy efficiency and establish a unified, industry-wide indicator system to help establish a baseline against which energy efficiency can be measured and serve as a guide for the green development of the ICT industry as a whole. The NCIe energy efficiency indicator system, proposed by Huawei, has already been approved by ITU-T SG5 and is now in the process of public consultation. All the industry stakeholders, including industry organizations, standards organizations, operators, and industry partners must come together to take collective action for maximum impact.