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Mobile Comms Can Save 43bn Euro in Energy Bills per Year

The figure equals about 2.4% of the CO2 emissions for the whole of the EU

A new report released by Vodafone and Accenture says that the use of mobile communications can reduce the annual energy bill for Europe by a €43 billion, equivalent to an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 113 Mt CO2e (metric ton carbon dioxide equivalents) by 2020.

The figure equals about 2.4% of the CO2 emissions for the whole of the EU, or eliminating close to one-fifth of the UK's emissions. Obviously, there's a catch. Vodafone says that the only way to achieve those goals is for the industry and governments to collaborate. The report, titled Carbon Connections: quantifying mobile's role in tackling climate change, identified 13 opportunities that could enable carbon abatement across 25 EU countries. But for these opportunities to come to fruition, governments will have to play an important role - like evolving regulation to set an appropriate price for carbon and decreasing free carbon allowances in order to encourage uptake of ICT emissions reduction opportunities, the report said.

Subsidies as incentives and regulation as law in key areas won't hurt either, the report continued. "For example, regulation could require the integration of M2M modules into high-value capital equipment or explore more definitive timetables for the roll out of smart grid solutions to ensure widespread uptake and diffusion of the technology."

Additional government initiatives should focus on promoting interoperability and standardisation in the industry, establishing best practices and benchmarks, support more detail research into carbon reduction opportunities in specific industries, and to promote a cap-and-trade and offset mechanism.

Mark Foster, group chief executive of Management Consulting & Integrated Markets at Accenture, said, “There is a clear and immediate imperative to take further steps to reduce global emissions, and the communications industry will yet again play a pivotal role by enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy. For example being able to access high-definition video conferencing from a mobile device can cut down the need to travel.”

“Every business, large or small, will need to deliver its products and services in a way that minimises both cost and the impact on the environment. This report demonstrates the important role that mobile technology, in particular smart solutions such as machine-to-machine services, can play in carbon abatement while at the same time offering a financial saving for our customers,” said Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group. “The challenge is for governments and industry to work together to create the necessary policy framework and investment conditions to stimulate their prompt deployment.”

The applications that cut emissions fall in two categories, the report said - smart machine-to-machine services, and dematerialization. Smart M2M applications, including smart grids, smart logistics, smart manufacturing and smart cities, represent up to 80% of the potential carbon savings, while dematerialisation applications such as video conferencing, represent the remaining 20% potential in reducing emissions.

Vodafone recently launched a global M2M service platform aimed at helping companies deploy and manage large, wireless M2M projects including smart metering, connected cars, and the remote monitoring of equipment. With the platform, companies will be able to centrally manage and control the process of rolling out M2M devices across several countries, the company said.

"The opportunities identified in the Carbon Connections Report will require approximately one billion connections, 87% of which will be M2M," Vodafone said. "It also recognises that a significant amount of capital investment is needed to deploy some of the services highlighted. However, the analysis suggests that the carbon pay back is very significant."

More Stories By Tony Chan

Tony Chan is the founder of the Green Telecom Live website and a seasoned journalist based in Hong Kong. He is currently an editor at CommsDay International, a daily, subscription-based newsletter covering the business, technology, regulation and market developments of the telecommunications industry in Asia and the world.

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