5G Connectivity Could Help Significantly Increase Energy Efficiency, Reduce Carbon Emissions in US

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by | Feb 1, 2022

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Implementation of 5G connectivity will significantly help reduce carbon emissions in the United States by improving data, automation and operational services — and could be particularly useful in the buildings, energy, transportation, cities, and manufacturing industries, according to a report. This could help industry reduce costs by enabling increased energy efficiency.

The study shows that, compared with 4G networks, 5G can delivery 100-times higher bandwidth, which will support a greater number of connected devices. That is especially important for organizations in helping reduce their carbon footprints because it enables greater connectivity of machine-to-machine communication, which is key to energy efficient technology such as smart and artificial intelligence systems, according to the report.

5G uses could reduce 20% of the country’s carbon emissions by 2025, the study shows. The report was created by Accenture and commissioned by CTIA (the wireless industry association) and analyzed 31 use cases for 5G across five industries.

In the US, 5G networks cover more than 305 million people. According to a report from RCR Wireless, it is 90% more energy efficient than the long-term evolution standard (LTE), which can help increase the impact of 5G technology in terms of sustainability. Even then, according to RCR Wireless, network providers are also concerned about high-energy use and also aim to use artificial intelligence to optimize network power usage and reliability.

The Accenture report finds that transportation and cities benefit the most from 5G connectivity in carbon reduction. It says the 5G-enabled use cases can total up to an 86.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide reduction in emissions (MMtCO2e).

This is done by helping with more sustainable options such as public transportation, optimizing routes and reducing congestion.

Buildings contribute up to 40% of the world’s emissions and fewer than 1% of them are net zero, according to a World Economic Forum report. That makes reducing carbon in this area substantial regarding emissions goals, and 5G helped the energy and buildings sector see a nearly 68 MMtCO2e reduction, according to Accenture. This is especially the result of smart system adaptations and building energy management.

Smart systems, that require use of networks and data, helped reduce energy with smart grids and meters as well as remote operations of high-energy uses such as HVAC systems, which are estimated to use as much as 40% of a building’s electricity. The report also finds renewable microgrids can benefit buildings and be run with 5G.

The manufacturing industry can also cut up to 67.4 MMtCO2e of emissions with a focus on smart systems, according to the report. The platforms can help monitor assets, implement predictive maintenance and use enhanced inventory management.

A 2021 study by Ericsson IndustryLab found that manufacturing could be nearly 80% automated within 10 years. Reducing carbon emissions was a primary factor for many companies moving toward the new technologies.

The Accenture report also looked at the agriculture and the working, living and health industries. It found working, living and health would cut 81 MMtCO2e with 5G implementations and agriculture would reduce it by nearly 28 MMtCO2e.

“This study shows 5G networks can bring material reductions in our country’s carbon footprint,” says Peters Suh, Accenture’s North America communications and media industry lead. “The crucial piece will be how industries leverage cloud-first 5G networks to bring greater innovation into key operational processes.”

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