The GSMA today unveiled an update to its 2009 landmark report “Mobile’s Green Manifesto” which outlines the positive impact of operator initiatives in the areas of energy and carbon management.
Analysis of 34 mobile networks worldwide(1) shows that, despite considerable growth in mobile connections and traffic, total network energy consumption increased only slightly from 2009 to 2010. The analysis also shows 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.
“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.”
The report used data and analysis from the GSMA’s Mobile Energy Efficiency Benchmarking (MEE) service to calculate both the energy costs and the CO(2)e emissions that result from the electricity and diesel consumption of mobile networks(2) globally. The MEE Benchmarking analysis shows that 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 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(3) are enabling GHG emissions savings estimated to be about 3 million tonnes (Mt) of CO(2)e annually. On a regional basis:
- 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;
- Western Europe represents 17 per cent of connections and 23 per cent of GHG savings.
Future savings come from smart applications, often as a result of M2M communications, particularly in applications such as smart grids and meters, as well as smart transportation and logistics. The mobile industry has the potential to contribute to an abatement of man-made GHG emissions. In the future, there is a significant environmental and commercial opportunity for mobile operators to help companies in other sectors and industries to both reduce their GHG emissions and cut energy costs, for example:
- 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, the equivalent of taking over 4 million cars off the road(5)
- 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(6);
- 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.
As more operators join the GSMA’s MEE benchmarking service, the accuracy of the estimations of total mobile network energy consumption, energy cost and CO(2)e emissions can be improved and the results used to track industry performance over time. The GSMA will continue to work with regulators and standards bodies to ensure the MEE Benchmarking methodology, already included in a global standard by the International Telecommunication Union, fits with other methodologies developed by the global ICT industry. Future development may include life cycle assessment of energy and carbon emissions based on an approach agreed by operators and manufacturers.
(2) Mobile networks are defined as the Radio Access Network plus the mobile elements of the Core Network. Energy consumed by IT systems (including data centres) and overheads is excluded as it is much smaller and also harder to benchmark.
(3) Source: Machina Research.
(4) Sources: GSMA analysis based on Yankee Group and Machina Research forecasts.
(5) Assuming annual emissions per car of 4 tonnes of CO(2)e.
(6) The IEA publishes biennial forecasts of global CO(2) emissions following the G8′s request for advice in 2005.
(7) Source: GSMA analysis extrapolating from Vodafone’s “Carbon Connections” report.
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo. For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com.