The operator says it is also leveraging AI, machine learning, and big data analytics to drive energy efficiencies across its network

This week, Vodafone UK has shed some light on the continued work the company is doing to improve its network’s energy efficiency, including installing solar panels at a mobile telephone exchange site in Gloucester.

In total, 720 solar panels will be deployed at the site, producing 240,000kWh of energy every year. According to the operator, this should account for around 12% of the exchange’s energy consumption.

This site is expected to be the first of many, with Vodafone suggesting it will deploy solar panels at similar locations around the UK over the next two years.

Alongside this deployment, Vodafone has outlined a number of other energy saving initiatives it has initiated in recent years, largely based around the use of AI, machine learning, and big data analytics. This includes using the technology to identify parts of the network that are consuming more energy than typically expected, allowing them to be proactively targeted for correction.

In addition, Vodafone says its Smart Sites programme, first announced back in 2021, has been combining IoT sensors with AI, allowing sites to be monitored remotely and remove the need for engineering visits. The programme currently covers 1,300 of Vodafone’s most energy-hungry mobile sites.

As a result of these combined energy saving measures, Vodafone notes that although the data carried over its UK network has increased 300% since 2019, the network’s energy usage remains flat.

“We all recognise the need to drive energy efficiencies – both from a financial and environmental perspective. The fact we’ve been able to decouple the link between data carried, energy consumption and carbon emissions is thanks to our laser-focus on energy efficiency – and nowhere is this more important than across our network,” explained Andrea Dona, UK Network Director at Vodafone.

“Using our own technologies to deliver brilliant programmes such as big data and Smart Sites is hugely impactful.  Onsite power generation is another important ambition, and I’m delighted we now have our first on-site solar up and running at our Gloucester MTX.”

Vodafone has been experimenting with on-site renewable energy solutions on their mobile network. Back in 2021, the company announced it was working with energy specialist Crossflow Energy to develop mobile Eco-Towers, powered by renewable energy generated on-site by both solar and wind. The operator says that, in future, this combined technology could allow some of its sites to function entirely independently of the national grid.

Vodafone Group has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for its UK operations by 2027, before reaching net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040.

Find out what’s next on the journey to build sustainable networks at this year’s live Connected North conference

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