5G Can Save Carbon Emissions Says U.K. report

Image credit: iStockphoto/NicoElNino

U.K.-based consultancy STL Partners says that 5G connectivity could save over 250 million tonnes in CO2 emissions in 2030 through accelerating the move to wind and solar energy.  

Based on extensive industry interviews and detailed modeling, STL’s estimated is that 5G-enabled use cases can reduce carbon emissions in the energy industry by almost 1% by 2030.

“This impact over the period 2020-30 is equivalent to almost 1.7 billion tonnes of emissions … or half of all of Canada's emissions in 2018,” says an STL briefing.

The STL Partners report, which was supported by Huawei, says that 5G will allow wind turbines to be more effective.

“Use cases will be an integral part of the future energy ecosystem, where everything will need to be connected — appliances, vehicles, energy networks, trading platforms, distributed generation sources, wholesale markets, renewable energy assets, etc,” the report says.

“The scale of this is unprecedented and will be impossible to support across all scenarios using today's network technologies.”

“The energy load … of a 5G cell site is 8-15% that of a like-for-like 4G cell site. With mmWave, this has the potential to fall to 1-2% of a 4G macro site.”

There is no one factor or application shifting global carbon emissions, the report says, but a “combination of solutions that will help businesses reduce energy consumption, allow energy providers to balance their energy sources and produce renewable energy more effectively.”

Overall, 5G will be an accelerator in the transformation to Industry 4.0 technologies, which by definition are more energy-efficient, while also enabling the use of edge computing powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The report says that 5G networks can enable the acceleration of this transition from direct fossil fuels to increase renewable electricity by:

  • Improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of electric-powered alternatives (for example, by making electric vehicles much cheaper to buy and as convenient to refuel as fossil fuel vehicles through optimized battery lease-and-swap networks)
  • Providing high-reliability, low latency connectivity to the energy suppliers and users committed to maintaining stable frequency across the electricity grid

Ensuring that renewables can contribute to the bulk of our energy needs, by supporting new business models ensuring energy demand across millions of appliances is managed in response to the fluctuating nature of renewables supply (for example, by charging electric vehicles or heating domestic hot water when renewable supply is at its peak).

Image credit: iStockphoto/NicoElNino