Unleashing the power of innovation: How to revolutionise energy efficiency

03 November 2023

By Jan Liebenberg, Customer Chief Technology Officer for Southern Africa at Nokia

Digital connectivity is the lifeblood of society, and the telecom industry stands tall as the backbone of this interconnected world. But with great power comes great responsibility. The pervasive networks that fuel our modern lives are also substantial consumers of energy. The challenge is therefore to balance the insatiable demand for connectivity with a commitment to sustainability. The imperative is clear: enhance energy efficiency and shrink the carbon footprint of Communication Service Providers (CSPs).

The Rising Call for Sustainability
Embracing sustainability isn’t just a moral choice; it’s a business necessity. Customers, stakeholders, and regulators are demanding environmentally responsible practices. For CSPs, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption isn’t just a path to meeting these expectations; it’s also a strategy to stand out in a cutthroat
market. Demonstrating a dedication to sustainability not only attracts ecoconscious customers but also fosters crucial partnerships.

A recent GSMA report cast a spotlight on energy consumption in wireless cellular networks, pinpointing key areas for energy savings. Nokia and the GSMA have estimated that 80% of mobile network energy is consumed by radio access. The rest is accounted for by transport, core, and OSS networks. Interestingly, 5G technology disrupts the conventional narrative. Unlike its predecessors, 5G can handle 100 times more traffic without increasing energy consumption, thanks to innovations like
lean frame structures, massive MIMO with beamforming, and new 5G spectrums.

Nokia’s Vision: A Greener Tomorrow
Nokia recognizes the urgent need to reduce energy consumption in the telecom sector by addressing legacy issues and pioneering new solutions. One standout initiative is the Single RAN software, which employs common hardware for all radios from 2G to 5G, reducing energy consumption by up to 45%. Energy-saving features like sleep mode settings and optimized micro-sleep periods ensure significant energy savings without compromising network performance.

The modernization of 2G, 3G, and 4G equipment with energy-efficient Single RAN software and hardware compensates for the energy consumption of new 5G radio sites, resulting in a 46% reduction in energy consumption, as proven in Nokia’s People and Planet report of 2022.

AI: The Game Changer
Nokia’s AVA Artificial Intelligence (AI), a blend of telco expertise and intelligent automation, predicts optimal times for implementing energy-saving actions.This technology ensures a delicate balance between energy conservation and network performance, guaranteeing an uninterrupted customer experience.

Moreover, Nokia’s AVA Energy Efficiency AI supports multi-vendor capabilities, so savings apply not just to the equipment of a single RAN vendor (Radio Access Network), but for the whole RAN network. It provides a holistic, overarching approach to energy savings on active and passive equipment, with the unique ability to maintain the required balance between energy consumption and network performance and growth, ensuring the customer’s quality of experience is not impacted.

Real-world Impact
AI will play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions and lowering network energy costs across new applications without having an impact on network performance or customer experience. In fact, it provides a real-world immediate opportunity for cost savings.

Nokia’s energy saving solutions will help our customers concretely reduce carbon emissions across their value chain. In fact, in addition to new energysaving features for network equipment, we also introduced a radio network software feature that helps reduce the energy consumption of mobile devices. This can make a big difference when our customers are reporting their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

CSPs must prioritise sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. By optimizing network infrastructure, improving energy management practices, and leveraging software solutions, we can pave the way for a greener and more sustainable telecom industry.

Setting Ambitious Targets
At Nokia, we understand the urgency of the climate crisis. We’ve set our sights on substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), we’ve committed to reducing our GHG emissions by 50% between 2019 and 2030 across our entire value chain (Scope 1, 2, and 3). To put this into action, we’ve pledged to have 100% renewable electricity powering our facilities by 2025, aligning ourselves with the RE100 initiative. Moreover, we’re working closely with our main final assembly suppliers, encouraging them to achieve zero GHG emissions by 2030 for the portion of their manufacturing attributed to Nokia. These targets reflect our dedication to a greener future.

Digitalization: A Force for Good
Beyond minimizing our own footprint, Nokia believes in the power of digitalization to transform industries and promote sustainability. We’re pioneering solutions like precision farming, leveraging 5G, wireless remote monitoring, private networks, digital sensors, and AI-based analytics to revolutionize agriculture. The impact is staggering - increased yields, reduced costs, and significant water savings. Imagine the potential: if 15-25% of all farms adopted precision farming by 2030, we could see a substantial increase in yields, massive cost savings, and a significant reduction in water usage.

But our efforts don’t end in agriculture. At Nokia, we’re developing solutions that facilitate improved decarbonization, productivity, resource efficiency, and safety across various industries and cities.

In essence, Nokia’s commitment to sustainability isn’t just a pledge; it’s a movement towards a greener, more connected future. As Nokia, we continue to innovate and drive change, and we invite the world to join us in this endeavour. Together, we can create a tomorrow where technology doesn’t just connect us; it sustains us.