5G lights up the path to net zero (but only with low-powered bulbs)

Source: Mobile UK

Source: Mobile UK

  • The UK government has set an ambitious target of reaching “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • And 5G is ‘part and parcel of the mix’ of technologies that will make a real difference in the fight, according to Mobile UK which has just released a report describing how

Mobile UK is the joint propaganda arm of the four UK mobile operators. Its mission is to proselytise the transformational benefits of mobile technology in general and 5G in particular. As the UK regroups after Brexit and shakes off the lingering scars of the pandemic which, for whatever reason (historians and social scientists may ponder this for many years) marked the peak of anti-5G feeling here, Mobile UK says its job is to help reset the public’s understanding of 5G and its benefits. 

“The fact is,” says Gareth Elliott, Head of Policy and Communications at Mobile UK, “that the Industry never really properly explained 5G and how it can help mitigate climate change.”  

Mindful of the looming COP26 Summit on climate change in Glasgow, Elliott says Mobile UK is keen to get on the front foot regarding 5G applications and their carbon-saving potential. To that end,  the days of defending the technology by having to explain that Bill Gates isn’t behind an evil scheme involving tiny microchips, or that burning masts is not a brilliant idea, are over.

Effort can now move into top gear and centre around all the ways 5G - in particular its IoT prowess - can be harnessed, even if that means the necessary densification of the networks will likely gobble marginally more power and emit a smidge more carbon in the process. 

That will be more than made up for by all the hand-on benefits the connectivity can provide to other industries.

On the front foot: You have to spend some to win some

So Mobile UK is focused on urging policy-makers in the UK to help with accelerating the roll-out of 5G -  get the technology out there faster, it says, and the sooner it can be helping to ratchet back carbon emissions and help the country hit its targets - no  time to lose!

Demanding net zero carbon targets are part and parcel of all four mobile operators’ strategies but Mobile UK is keen to point out that 5G applications can have a beneficial global impact well beyond that.

One of its many case studies explores the ways the combined G7 manufacturing sectors might be able to reduce their total carbon emissions by 1% during the period 2020-2035. It claims this saving could equate to roughly 75% of the annual carbon emissions of France! 

In addition, research suggests the energy and utilities sectors could reduce emissions globally by 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2020-2030.

Another 5G assist will involve helping manage the future energy system via systems that will  allow the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data on energy demand, network capability and storage capacity. Combining this with data from connected transport, homes and buildings, will allow for a fully optimised and strategically planned energy system, explains the report. 

“One feature of this data-driven digitalisation is that it will support people to both produce and consume energy (which has led to them sometimes being described as “prosumers”). Connected solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries of households up and down the country will be able to store surplus energy and discharge it back to the energy network for use elsewhere.

`The full report, “The full report, “Connectivity and Climate Change: How 5G will help lay the path to net zero,” is available to download here.


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