Vodafone has announced that its European network will be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity no later than July 2021, creating a Green Gigabit Net for customers across 11 markets that will grow sustainably using only power from wind, solar or hydro sources.
Vodafone also committed to helping business customers who use its services reduce their own carbon emissions by a cumulative total of 350 million tonnes globally over ten years between 2020 and 2030 – an ambitious new 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 one 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 per cent of its network waste, supporting the move towards a more circular economy. Today’s 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,” Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said. “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 per cent 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 new carbon reduction target was developed with support from global carbon and sustainability experts, 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,” Tom Delay, The Carbon Trust chief executive said. “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.”
Green networks plan accelerated in Europe
Vodafone’s Europe-wide Green Gigabit Net commitment brings forward by three years an earlier pledge to source 100 per cent 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, including Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Romania, Albania, Czech Republic and Hungary, no later than 31 July 2021.
New target for carbon enablement
Vodafone’s technology and services – including the Internet of Things (IoT) platform – already help business customers manage their energy consumption more efficiently and reduce their emissions. In FY19/20, Vodafone Business customers globally were able to save 6.9 million tonnes of CO2e, nearly four times the emissions generated from Vodafone’s own operations.
Vodafone’s new global, cumulative enablement target of 350 million tonnes of CO2e over the ten year period from 2020 – 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 customers 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 per cent.
• 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.
Continuing to drive energy efficiency
Vodafone remains committed to improving the energy efficiency of its base station sites and in its data and switching centres, which together account for 95 per cent of the company’s total global energy consumption. During 2020, Vodafone invested €77 million in energy efficiency and renewable projects, which led to annual energy savings of 186GWh.
Despite the ongoing growth in data usage, last year Vodafone continued to improve its overall energy efficiency, achieving a 38.5 per cent 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.
The company’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 €750 million 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.