GSMA Lauds Global Telcos on Renewable Energy Progress

GSMA has revealed encouraging results of global telcos’ efforts on renewable energy. The report highlights operators’ remarkable progress in maximizing the use of renewable energy in their networks.

But the path is still long. A survey notes that operators will require an additional 64 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable electricity by 2030 to contain carbon in their services. The findings come from GSMA Access to Renewable Energy Policy Paper.

The telecom sector is one of the first to raise a hand for the Net Zero goal by 2050. Since COP26, mobile network operators (MNOs) have gradually increased the use of renewable electricity to power their sites. The end goal is to completely decarbonize network operations.

The latest GSMA report shows significant progress. Data gathered from 33 operators across 86 countries which account for 50% of mobile connections worldwide, shows increased renewable energy in the industry.

GSMA’s Report on Telcos’ Renewal Energy Adoption Highlights:

  • European operators are leading worldwide, purchasing 71% renewable energy on average.
  • Cellular networks in 41 of the 86 countries are using over 75% renewable energy
  • Networks in 29 of the 86 countries in the survey use below 25% renewable energy
  • 32% of renewable is procured via power purchase agreements with energy generators
  • 63% of renewable energy is generated via renewable energy certificates from electricity markets
  • 4% renewable energy comes from the self-generation of renewable electricity

The data shows that European and North American telcos have achieved better renewable energy commitments. On the contrary, Africa, Mid-East, Asia, and other markets are finding it hard to transition.  

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Meaningful progress

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer of GSMA, said: “Operators are making meaningful progress in the use of renewables to power communications networks. However, given the scale of demand, the GSMA calls for greater collaboration between the private and public sectors to expand the renewable energy infrastructure needed to hit our net zero ambitions. This will require reducing regulatory barriers, supporting market-based mechanisms to access renewable electricity, and incentivizing investment in new renewable power generation.”

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Joakim Reiter, Vodafone’s Chief External & Corporate Affairs Officer said: “After switching Vodafone’s European networks and operations to renewable energy, we are also making important strides in Africa. But accelerating the industry’s transition to renewables everywhere, in a more equitable way, will require significantly greater cooperation between the public and private sectors.  Governments increasingly embrace the enablement potential of telecoms itself to reduce carbon across society. This should go hand-in-hand with leveraging the telecom sector to attract long-term investments in renewable energy generation, increasing its availability and accessibility as part of national plans to enhance energy security and stimulate future-proof economic and social development.”

UN RaceToZero’s report for COP26 observes that the mobile industry should target 70% decarbonization by 2030.

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Global firms are vouching for a greener and more eco-friendly industry environment. The Telecom sector is on for a vital driver of the purpose. Coordination with all the stakeholders concerned could only derive further progress in the Net Zero direction.

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