Orange steps up efforts to reduce energy consumption across Europe

As part of the ongoing energy crisis, Orange has taken steps across its European footprint to reduce its energy consumption over the coming months. As the measures voted by the Council of Europe proposing a voluntary reduction in electricity consumption between 1 December and the end of March 2023 come into force, the Orange group is confirming its commitment to supporting efforts to reduce stress on energy networks across Europe. This comes in addition to the Group’s overall strategy to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact with the aim of becoming net zero carbon by 2040.

Orange is already working across its European footprint – in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain - to optimise energy consumption. Overall, IT and networks represent around 85% of the Group’s energy requirements, with the remaining 15% being concentrated on buildings, shops and vehicles. This means that optimising energy efficiency in networks is key.

Towards improved energy efficiency in networks

To improve the energy efficiency of its networks, the Group is working to deploy the latest generation of equipment, in particular 5G, which includes innovative energy-optimisation features. The Group’s Green ITN program has led to considerable savings in power usage over recent years including features optimisation in IT and network, and more efficient datacentres - the latest free cooling technologies have led to 30% lower electricity usage.

In addition, mobile network sharing agreements between operators have already been set up in many of Orange’s European countries including Belgium, Poland and Spain. Such projects bring substantial savings in energy use for all partners, while optimising the use of network equipment by avoiding duplication and reducing maintenance costs.

For the period 2019 to 2022, the program has led to energy savings equivalent to 19% of total IT and network consumption in Europe.

To reduce short-term stress on the national energy grid in France, Orange has also made a commitment to switch part of its network onto battery power during peak periods. Such operations would last around an hour and have no impact on network performance. By doing this, Orange will effectively remove 5-10% of its spot energy usage from the grid, saving up to 20MW or the equivalent of a medium-sized town.

Maximizing sourcing of green energy

Since 2018, Orange has conducted an overhaul of its energy sourcing in order to progressively increase the use of renewable energy into its portfolio, while managing costs. Several countries now benefit from long-term Power Purchase Agreement contracts that increase the proportion of energy originating from wind or solar-powered sources. Such contracts are already in place in France, Spain and Poland, covering close to 1,000 GWh/year of the Group’s energy needs. In Spain, 100% of energy used by Orange now comes from renewable sources thanks to such a PPA. Excluding France, by 2025 at least 75% of the total energy used by Orange in Europe will come from renewable resources, in line with the Group’s #OrangeGoesGreen climate strategy. 

The Group also produces its own energy, using solar energy to power network equipment or complement energy requirements in its datacentres. Various projects are currently being implemented across Europe to use autonomous, clean energy to reduce dependence on national electricity grids.

For example, the Group’s towerco subsidiary, Totem, has over 600 towers in Spain equipped with solar panels. Each site produces up to 30% of its own energy requirements. Other examples include Orange Slovakia, which recently announced a nation-wide plan to accelerate the use of solar power on its mobile base stations: 180 sites have already been equipped and an additional 250 will be deployed in the coming months. Orange Romania has also announced plans to equip 300 base stations, while other projects are currently being implemented in Moldova. 

Reducing the impact of offices and retail

Orange is also taking steps to reduce energy consumption in its shops and office buildings. Electricity used for heating has been cut dramatically by reducing the minimum ambient temperature to 19°C. In addition, in many offices, workspaces have been optimised as staff work more often from home. The Group has also made a Europe-wide commitment to switch off the lights in shop windows earlier. In France, the lights in shop fronts are now switched off 30 minutes after closing time. In Poland, internal and external lighting is switched off outside opening hours, while Orange Belgium is introducing a similar policy.

Finally, the Group is also working to encourage its employees and customers to join in the effort. In Poland for example, Orange has developed a dedicated website to share ideas on how to reduce the energy impact of digital devices and services. Orange’s operations in Moldova and France have also developed similar online tools or apps to help users be conscious of the impact of their digital usages. In France, the Group has signed the Ecowatt charter providing customers with a real-time view of energy consumption enabling them to adapt their own electricity usage responsibly.

Commenting on the Group’s efforts to reduce energy consumption, Marie-Noelle Jégo-Laveissière, Deputy CEO in charge of Orange’s operational activities in Europe (outside France), said: “With a solid baseline in energy efficiency actions, we will reinforce our ambitions in reducing energy consumption while also continuing to provide top connectivity to our customers. In today’s increasingly digital word, our networks and services have become a critical element of our society and economies. However, we also believe that we have a duty to minimise our impact on the planet. We are determined to continue to find creative ways to improve our energy consumption efficiency and encourage sobriety, while ensuring the resilience of our network and sites".

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