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Vodafone to go 100% renewable within one year
- July 29, 2020
- Steve Rogerson
Vodafone’s European network will be powered by 100% renewable electricity no later than July 2021 and it is using IoT technology to help businesses reduce carbon emissions.
The aim is to create a network across 11 countries that will grow sustainably using only power from wind, solar or hydro sources.
The operator also said it would help businesses that used its services reduce their own carbon emissions by a cumulative total of 350 million tonnes globally over ten years between 2020 and 2030, a target equivalent to the UK’s total annual carbon emissions for 2019.
Vodafone’s pledges align with the company’s purpose to improve the lives of a billion people while halving its environmental impact by 2025. In 2019, Vodafone committed to purchasing all electricity from renewable sources, halving its environmental footprint by 2025 and reusing, reselling or recycling 100% of its network waste, supporting the move towards a more circular economy. This announcement accelerates the current commitments and adds a new one.
“More than ever, Vodafone is relied upon to connect millions of people around the world,” said Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read. “As society rebuilds and recovers from the Covid-19 crisis, we have an opportunity to reshape our future sustainably to ensure that recovery does not come at a cost to the environment. Our accelerated shift to 100% renewable electricity on our European networks will change the way we power our technology for good, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, helping our customers manage their resources more effectively and reduce their carbon emissions, while helping to create a healthier planet for everyone.”
The carbon reduction target was developed with support from global carbon and sustainability experts at the Carbon Trust, with whom Vodafone has worked for a number of years. The Carbon Trust calculated the total quantity of emissions Vodafone has helped business customers avoid and has modelled potential future scenarios to inform Vodafone’s target setting in this area.
“We have been working closely with Vodafone on its sustainability agenda since 2010, and for the last seven years on quantifying the carbon enablement impact of Vodafone’s products and services,” said Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay. “There is a growing and important opportunity for the ICT sector to develop and enable new solutions that help drive decarbonisation and this target represents a very high level of ambition for Vodafone to continue to drive this strategy, further developing its IoT and other services, and engaging with its business customers.”
Vodafone’s Europe-wide Green Gigabit Net commitment brings forward by three years an earlier pledge to source 100% renewable electricity for the company’s fixed and mobile networks by 2025. Around four-fifths of the energy used by Vodafone’s networks will be from renewable sources obtained directly from national electricity grids via PPA and green tariffs. The remaining fifth, supplied by Vodafone’s landlords on buildings and other infrastructure, will be covered instead by credible renewable energy certificates. Where feasible, Vodafone will also invest in self-generation on site, mostly via solar panels.
Green Gigabit Net will be enabled across all Vodafone’s markets in Europe – Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Romania, Albania, Czech Republic and Hungary – no later than the end of July 2021. Some Vodafone markets have already made commitments to renewable electricity:
- Vodafone Italy, Czech Republic and Ireland have used renewable electricity tariffs for a number of years.
- Vodafone Spain announced a power purchase agreement with Iberdrola for 540GWh from renewable sources, including 140GWh from a new wind farm.
- In 2019, Vodafone Germany, Romania, Greece and Hungary all sourced renewable tariffs or certificates for the first time.
Vodafone’s technology and services – including its global IoT platform – already help businesses manage their energy consumption more efficiently and reduce their emissions. In 2019-20, Vodafone business users globally were able to save 6.9 million tonnes of CO2e, nearly four times the emissions generated from Vodafone’s own operations.
Vodafone’s global, cumulative enablement target of 350 million tonnes of CO2e over the ten years from 2020 to 2030 will be largely delivered via Vodafone’s IoT services, including logistics and fleet management, smart metering and manufacturing activities. Other savings are expected to be made through healthcare services, cloud hosting and home working. IoT applications that help users reduce emissions include:
- Smart energy meters that enable businesses, municipal authorities and households to monitor, manage and reduce their energy use. Worldwide, Vodafone has over 12 million smart meter connections using its IoT technology, saving an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e.
- Smart cities – networked intelligently to improve the efficiency of energy-intensive services such as public transport, public road networks and street lighting. For example, in the city of Guadalajara, Spain, 13,500 LED lights were connected to a central management system, reducing street lighting energy consumption by 68%.
- Smart logistics – IoT technologies embedded in vehicles to optimise route management, vehicle maintenance and driver behaviour, delivering cuts in fuel consumption of up to 30% and saving an estimated 4.8 million tonnes of CO2e.
Vodafone says it remains committed to improving the energy efficiency of its base station sites and in its data and switching centres, which together account for 95% of the company’s total global energy consumption. During 2020, Vodafone invested €77m in energy efficiency and renewable projects, which led to annual energy savings of 186GWh.
Despite the on-going growth in data usage, last year Vodafone continued to improve its overall energy efficiency, achieving a 38.5% reduction in the total amount of GHG emissions per petabyte (PB) of mobile data carried, to reach an average of 230 tonnes CO2e per PB.
Vodafone’s energy efficiency initiatives are focused on sourcing and implementing more efficient network equipment, reducing energy demand by installing lower-energy power and cooling technologies, and cutting energy use by decommissioning and replacing legacy equipment.
In May 2019, Vodafone issued its first €750m green bond to finance or refinance projects to help meet the company’s environmental objectives, subsequently reporting which projects were eligible under the use of proceeds and how they were selected.