Like many mobile operators around the world, Telenor Group is faced with rising power requirements. Telenor has a plan to solve this dilemma, and among other things, it involves choosing partners who are also committed to going green, and have the innovative chops to create truly energy-efficient solutions.
Tanveer Mohammad, SVP and Head of Global Operation at Telenor Group, delivered a speech at Huawei’s Day0 Forum at MWC22 Barcelona, saying that with energy consumption increasing 10% to 12% a year as mobile data usage increased with each network generation, Telenor looked to implement innovative solutions and efficient operations to bring down power usage. By 2020, this was working – that was the first year Telenor saw energy consumption go down, albeit by just 1.5%.
But with 5G – which requires more power than 4G – that trend is reversing, he says. “By rolling out 5G and expanding network rollouts and capacity by almost three to four times, we expect to see energy consumption grow again in 2022 by 6% to 8%. So for a global operator like Telenor, on a holistic, aggregate level, we’re seeing an increase in power consumption.”
Meanwhile, that growth in energy consumption also impacting opex.
“So from the operational profitability point of view, also we are feeling the heat,” Mohammad said.
Telenor’s overall green strategy covers three basic areas: reducing direct emissions (such as running diesel generators for base stations), reducing indirect emissions caused by purchased electricity and steam, and encouraging partners and suppliers to set their own reduction targets and commit to them.
“Our target is that by 2030, we will be totally carbon-neutral in the Nordic region and our carbon level in Asia will be reduced by 50% from 2019. And we aim to have 68% of our partners to have their own targets in place by 2025.”
Mohammed explained that Telenor has been approaching energy reductions from both the demand and supply sides of the ecosystem – which means reducing demand by using more efficient equipment and batteries, removing air conditioners, site consolidation, etc, and being more diligent in buying cleaner and more efficient energy sources, for example.
More specifically, Telenor has been busy modernizing its network to milk more efficiencies out of it, moving more data into the cloud to lighten the load on its data centers, energy management tools that can leverage big data from across the entire value chain, decommissioning legacy tech such as 2G, 3G and copper networks, and using green energy solutions such as solar power.
Mohammed notes that while equipment efficiency features can reduce energy consumption, the tradeoff is that it can also impact the customer experience. “So what we’d like to do, especially with the big partners, is to bring up AI and ML-based solutions that will minimize the impact on the customer experience so that we can roll out these features in a much more aggressive way.”
Mohammed emphasizes the importance of partnerships in the quest for greener operations, because there’s only so much an operator can do on its own. Telenor has specific expectations from its partners, he said, starting with innovative RAN solutions.
“The RAN itself takes the major part of energy consumption, so we need innovative ways to bring in more efficiency there,” he explains.
Telenor also needs partners who can deliver innovative automation/ML based features and energy supply and management solutions, including high-efficiency rectifiers, batteries and environmental control equipment.
“We still have rectifiers at some part of network which has an efficiency of say 90% when there is 96% efficiency available, so this 6% is getting lost without creating any sort of value.”
And finally, Telenor needs partners to embrace SBT-based targets and commitment.
“This is definitely a very challenging area, but at the same time, if we can really work together from the operator side with very close focus from the partner side, and with the right kind of help of the government and regulators, I think there is a very good future for us, and we can address these very challenging issue,” he says.