Yao Wenbing, Vice President, Huawei UK

How the ICT industry can become the catalyst for green development across industries  

Yao Wenbing, Vice President, Huawei UK discuses how the ICT industry is uniquely placed to leverage energy efficiency as a means of accelerating green development across various sectors.

The global energy crisis is impacting all our lives. Worryingly, experts warn that rocketing prices for households and businesses are yet to reach their peak. Ensuring security of supply is a top priority for governments, and accelerating the shift towards home-grown, renewable energy is becoming a widely favoured, long-term solution.

However, while focusing on supply we shouldn’t forget about the other driver of scarcity: demand.

This is where technology can play its part. According to GeSI’s SMARTer2030 report, the ICT industry will have a significant and far-reaching impact on making the world greener. The report finds that by embracing ICT technologies, other industries will be able to reduce their own carbon emissions significantly, resulting in a global carbon emissions reduction of 20%. ICT therefore has a unique opportunity to contribute towards green development across whole economies.

Acknowledging this reality reveals a key insight: now, more than ever, there is scope for a fully-integrated, sector-based strategy to drive us towards a modern and efficient energy infrastructure. And, while all sectors have a part to play in bolstering the transition to a low-carbon world, the ICT industry is uniquely placed to have the most transformative impact.

Why ICT?
Delving into network infrastructure helps us realise where meaningful gains can be made.

It is important to start by noting that throughout the entire life cycle of network equipment, just 2% of its carbon emissions are generated during manufacturing.

The ramifications of this become all the clearer if we examine the case of data storage. Huawei’s own research predicts 1 YB (that’s approximately a million trillion MBs) of global data will be stored in the cloud by 2030. If the infrastructure then comprises greener, all-optical transmission technologies, we could be looking at up to 150 million tons of carbon emissions being saved each year through enhanced storage practices alone. Put more tangibly, this is equivalent to planting 200 million trees – an amount that would cover the whole of Europe in forest.

It’s not just carbon emissions that are reduced, of course. It’s also operating costs for customers. For example, remaining on the topic of data storage, Huawei’s SmartLi UPS system runs at 97% efficiency compared to an industry standard of 96%. This may sound like a small improvement, but it adds up to big savings. In fact, it will save operators an estimated $70,000 in electricity over the 10-year life of each 1.2MW UPS unit installed.

With the projected numbers painting such a clear picture, it’s now time to create a strategic and sensible roadmap for getting there.

Our recommendations for the sector
Huawei presented its own vision for green ICT at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: “Green Site, Green Network, and Green Operation”.

This three-part solution puts energy efficiency at the forefront of industry processes, without neglecting user experience. If we forget that our need to reduce power consumption goes hand in hand with a need to boost network capacity, it is users who will be left in the lurch. That’s why our promise is “More Bits, Less Watts”.

We know this might raise eyebrows; we know that there is sometimes a trade-off between energy saving features and some aspects of network performance. But we also know that we have found, and continue to find, creative solutions to this problem whereby performance indicators can drop due to reduced energy input, but without actually affecting user experience. A good example can be seen in Germany, where an automated intelligent shutdown solution runs in shopping malls at night. Whilst slightly reducing one performance indicator, peak rates, crucially, it delivers on lowering site energy consumption by 10%, all without disrupting user experience.

Adopting user experience as a core metric of the success of green initiatives, rather than focussing too heavily on traditional indicators, frees up creative space to improve energy efficiency across our whole sector. Intelligent power management becomes a crucial element for any network aspiring to be a truly low-carbon carrier fit for the future.

Leading the way
When it comes to going green, our tech is leading the way.

Reducing power consumption shouldn’t come at the cost of reduced performance. In industry, 5G carriers are demanding solutions that enable increased numbers of radio access technologies (RATs) and frequency bands, while still boasting strong environmental credentials.

Huawei’s answer to this is 5Green, which is made up of two solutions: GreenSite and PowerStar. These innovations bolster the green development of networks across hardware and operations.

GreenSite embeds low-carbon objectives at the level of hardware, utilising innovative components to make sure networking sites are as eco-friendly as possible. Our innovative “extremely large antenna array” combines 384 antennae – over double the amount found in common antenna units – to make what we call our MetaAAU. Adopting the innovation has enabled us to reduce the power consumption of network sites while simultaneously improving performance.

5Green’s second solution, PowerStar, uses software to share power intelligently across multiple radio networks which use different technologies and bandwidths. This reduces power consumption while protecting user experience. On average, PowerStar is already helping operators decrease their wattage needs by more than 25% and this figure is only set to increase as the system improves.

The extent of our progress in green 5G is perhaps best exemplified by our launch of the world’s first ever Giga Green Site for market use at MWC, where, again, it was innovations in radio antennae that allowed us to deliver on the site’s low-carbon aspirations. The use of multi-antennae technology helped us cut the base station modules down from the typical eight to just three, boosting energy efficiency by 30% compared with competitor products. The antenna arrangement itself, called the BladeAAU Pro, uses adaptable signal technology to reduce its own energy consumption by 15%, while maintaining the same level of user-friendly coverage.

By unlocking new methods of improving energy efficiency while adapting to the ever-growing need for better network capacity, Huawei is proud to be at the forefront of ICT’s green transition, whose success will be pivotal in improving green outcomes for the global economy at large.

What will accelerate our plans?
Huawei believes in building a fully connected, intelligent world, and delivering that vision is our priority. With its dual promise to reduce carbon emissions and lower bills for our customers, getting on with achieving it has never been more important.

Last year, Huawei invested $22.4bn into research and development, because we know that ICT’s contribution to our low-carbon future could be a game-changer. If innovation is the engine of transformation, we are confident that through our financial and creative commitment, we can accelerate the pace of green development across the globe.

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