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Vodafone makes an aggressive carbon commitment
When one of the world’s largest communications groups announces new plans, the industry tends to listen. For an insight into Vodafone Group’s aims for carbon emission reductions, unite exclusively interviews Miguel Arranz, Head of 2G Product, who has been instrumental in developing the company’s commitment on energy saving.
unite: What is Vodafone's carbon commitment?
Miguel: We have set ourselves the realistic but challenging target of reducing, by 2020, our CO2 emissions by 50% compared to a 2006/7 baseline of 1.23 million tonnes. We aim to achieve this target by using the best energy efficiency technologies in our radio networks and by leveraging the use of renewable energy.
We have been working hard on the issue for some time. In 2006, we set a target to reduce carbon emissions per unit of data transmitted by 40% by 2011. We have established energy targets in more than ten of our operating companies and we have been working with suppliers to increase the efficiency of network elements by 25%.
unite: What are the key technology developments that the industry needs to produce to help you achieve your commitment?
Miguel: There are three key areas. Improving the efficiency of power amplifiers is absolutely crucial. We have come a long way but our dream is to achieve 60% efficiency.
Second is the availability of base stations tailored for rural communities in emerging markets where the next billion subscribers will come from and where it can be difficult to provide energy. So we need to steel our efforts to create a base station that can run on 100W or less.
And third is our single Radio Access Network (RAN) concept in which different technologies and different bandwidths are integrated in the same equipment. This allows operators to reduce the number of elements in the RAN.
Network sharing is also particularly relevant to the carbon challenge. Passive site sharing involves different operators using site ancillary equipment such as battery back-up and cooling. However, we estimate that active sharing of sites, in which operators use the same radio equipment, can reduce the number of elements in the network by 40% for the same coverage, thus using close to 40% less energy. We already have some active sharing agreements, for example in Spain.
unite: How well is Nokia Siemens Networks responding to the carbon challenge?
Miguel: Nokia Siemens Networks has proven itself to be a very conscious vendor in improving the efficiency of its products and services. In key areas, its developments coincide with our energy-saving ideas.
The Flexi Base Station feederless design with the radio module mounted directly to the antenna eliminates feeder losses. Flexi Base Station is also a multi-radio platform supporting multi-technologies and multi-bandwidths. And we particularly appreciate the Flexi's intelligent, load dependent activation / de-activation of base station capacity timeslot-by-timeslot - Nokia Siemens Networks has a clear leadership position here.
The company also signals its strong environmental commitment with its membership of the WWF Climate Savers program and by reducing its energy consumption around the world. We appreciate this.
The carbon commitment is a big step for us and we welcome aggressive commitments from competitors and partners. It is important to establish targets based on absolute terms rather than on relative growth or other measures that are hard to understand.