Telecoms has become the lubricant that keeps societal communication wheels turning forward, especially so with the rising demand of individual and businesses for increased connectivity during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Categorized as an essential industry, the telecoms industry beefed up its capabilities during worldwide lockdowns to accommodate all of humanity to remain connected.
With that in mind, LTE and 5G upgrades are slowly emerging across the world, which is anticipated to more than triple telecoms energy consumption over the next decade, according to a new report by Washington-based Guidehouse Insights.
Accompanying the large consumption rates, operators are increasingly deploying distributed renewable energy generation technology as well as distributed energy storage systems.
According to the report, global telecom network providers are expected to install nearly 121.9 GW of cumulative new distributed renewable energy generation technologies and distributed energy storage systems capacity between 2021 and 2030.
While increased energy consumption was primarily due to LTE and 5G network upgrades, the factors driving growth of the market include a low revenue-growth environment, rising global electricity prices, and the increasing number of mobile broadband users.
These developments promise to deliver strong economic development and provide unprecedented opportunities to empower individuals across all socioeconomic classes. However, stakeholders are increasingly concerned with the effect this exponential increase in data traffic will have on telecoms energy consumption and carbon footprint of mobile networks.
The report highlighted that telecom operators account for 2 percent to 3 percent of total globally energy consumption, placing them at the forefront of the most energy-intensive companies worldwide.
“With more than 90 percent of network cost spent on energy, consisting mostly of fuel and electricity, the demand for energy-saving measures from telecom operators is growing,” Ricardo F. Rodriguez, research analyst with Guidehouse Insights, said.
The report further noted that almost three-quarters of Internet users are expected to access the web via smartphone by 2025, which is the equivalent of 3.7 billion people. In parallel, networks and data centers account for the next biggest share of emissions in the telecom industry.
“The increasing number of mobile broadband users combined with the emergence of data-heavy mobile applications will likely drive exponential growth in mobile data traffic through 2030 and beyond, creating strong economic development,” the study added.