UK network operator Vodafone has adopted big data analytics, AI and machine learning to drive down the power consumption of its UK network. It has also installed its first on-site solar panels at a mobile telephone exchange (MTX) network site.
Since 2019, data carried on Vodafone’s UK network has increased by a factor of three while the energy consumption has remained flat and carbon emissions have fallen by 77%.
A 4% increase in energy consumption increase year-on-year across the network has been counterbalanced by a 7% energy consumption decrease thanks to rationalisation programmes and energy savings initiatives.
Vodafone is also using a big data analytics platform, developed in-house, to drive energy efficiencies across its 11,500 owned radio base stations. Artificial intelligence and machine learning help identify ‘consumption anomalies’ where parts of the network using more energy than expected. Targeted actions can be then delivered to make the sites more energy efficient.
Another initiative – the Vodafone Smart Sites programme – uses Internet of Things (IoT) and AI on Vodafone’s highest energy consuming radio base stations, enabling it to manage the sites remotely and reduce the need for engineer visits. As of March 2023, 1,300 sites have been connected.
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Data from both programmes will be used to optimise future network and energy efficiency planning.
The first on-site solar panels at a mobile telephone exchange (MTX) network site is in Gloucester. The site, which houses technology used to route phone calls and data to and from mobile devices, will use electricity generated from the solar panels to reduce reliance on the national grid.
The installation of 720 solar (PV) panels will produce around 240kWh of renewable electricity a year, supplying around 12% of the site’s annual energy requirement. The solar panels are built into the roof tiles, rather than raised above them, to ensure minimal impact on the local area.
Vodafone hopes to install rooftop solar PV across a number of additional sites across the UK over the next two years.
“We all recognise the need to drive energy efficiencies – both from a financial and environmental perspective. The fact we’ve been able to decouple the link between data carried, energy consumption and carbon emissions is thanks to our laser-focus on energy efficiency – and nowhere is this more important than across our network,” said Andrea Dona, Network Director at Vodafone UK.
“Using our own technologies to deliver brilliant programmes such as big data and Smart Sites is hugely impactful. Onsite power generation is another important ambition, and I’m delighted we now have our first on site solar up and running on our Gloucester MTX.”
Vodafone UK says it has been powered by 100% renewable electricity since July 2021 and recently announced a second major corporate solar power purchase agreement (PPA) giving it access to renewable electricity for the next 10 years. This means 44% of its annual energy requirement will come from UK-based renewable power sources by 2025.