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Telecom Operators Prioritizing Sustainability: Strategies, Challenges, and Global Advancements

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Telecoms operators worldwide are prioritizing sustainability initiatives, as they account for up to 3% of global energy demand. The GSMA estimates that this number will increase despite energy savings brought by the new 5G radio standard due to exponential data traffic growth and edge capacity demands for high-performing services. Additionally, telcos face pressure to comply with stringent laws and regulations such as the EU’s Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD).

Despite these challenges, the telecoms industry has made significant strides in tackling energy consumption. Early adopters of solar energy, telcos are now expanding their adoption of renewables, including wind energy, solar PV, and lithium battery storage.

To further advance energy efficiency and sustainability, telcos must be honest and transparent about their capabilities and intentions. Avoiding greenwashing and remaining truthful about their green initiatives will help attract and retain customers and staff.

In terms of technology, immediate practical steps operators can take include transitioning to high-efficiency rectifiers in their DC power systems. This can improve energy efficiency by up to 6%.

Tailoring energy strategies to specific access sites is also essential, as factors such as geography, climate, and grid reliability vary worldwide. Hybrid energy systems leveraging solar power are more prevalent in areas with unreliable or overtaxed grids.

Intelligent controllers and advanced load management functionalities enable telcos to visualize and optimize power performance and distribution inefficiencies. Proactively managing loads allows operators to improve airflow and thermal management, ensuring energy efficiency and cost savings.

Embracing long-term strategies, such as equipment reuse and recycling, and reducing factory and office water consumption is crucial. Innovations like sodium-ion batteries and microgrids also present opportunities for off-grid operation and energy management.

The telecoms industry continues to drive progress in energy efficiency and sustainability, signaling a promising future for the sector.

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