. Renewable energy will become an important source of energy by 2050
. Telcos face several challenges in their roadmap to net-zero
Renewable energy is expected to become a major source of energy by 2050, according to a report from Huawei.
Renewable energy is extracted from natural resources that are replenished faster than they are consumed. For example, sunlight and wind are sources that are constantly replenished. Renewable energy sources are plentiful and all around us.
The report, “Huawei Digital Power Introduction”, noting that South Africa would be carbon neutral by 2050, estimated a peak value of 2025 with 16 percent renewable energy. It said that in Nigeria carbon neutrality would be achieved by 2060, but greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 2050, while there is a target of 43 percent renewable energy by 2030. In Kenya, Huawei said that carbon neutral will be achieved by 2050, while there are is currently 90 percent renewable in the country.
Huawei noted in the report that there is great interest in solar energy companies in Africa. It stressed that the continent’s solar energy resource is nearly 40 percent of the global total, but has only one percent of the world’s installed capacity.
The report claimed that Africa’s solar energy is estimated at 60,000,000 TWh/year. In the African solar market, Huawei claimed that only two percent of its PV-related funds had been invested in the African market in the past 20 years.
While global solar investment rose to $2.25 trillion and $2.84 trillion cumulatively as of 2020, the report said Africa has $55 billion and $60 billion cumulative investment over the period examined. The collapse brought North Africa’s investment to $17.5 billion; West Africa at $3.9 billion; East Africa’s $9.7 billion; Central Africa at $1.3 billion and South Africa at $22.4 billion.
Meanwhile, TelecomTv analysis has shown that the biggest challenge for operators towards a net-zero future is the lack of clear methodology for their suppliers to report their CO2 emissions. This is according to analysts at telecom consultant STL Partners, who have emphasized the need for telcos to collaborate much more if they want to tackle hurdles in the value chain.
During a webinar presentation, the company shared findings based on discussions it held with 40 telecom operators worldwide about their sustainability efforts. It found that the main challenge for better environmental sustainability lies in data collection and methodology for Scope 3 emissions (indirect, produced within the value chain).
Chief Analyst at STL Partners, Amy Cameron, said: “That’s difficult because you depend on all your partners and suppliers across your value chain to report – and many companies don’t report this well yet.”
“In fact, Scope 1 emissions (direct, caused by the facilities, fleet, etc.) were found to have a carbon footprint, while emissions produced in the supply chain (scope 3) are the largest contributors to environmental pollution.”
According to the company, there is a need for telcos to express their sustainability requirements when working with suppliers. “One important thing is having really strict provisions for suppliers, which are part of the decision-making process and framework when it comes to selecting partners that you would work with, rather than just being around cost,” he said. Grace Donnelly, senior consultant and lead sustainability practice at STL Partners. Another option is for telcos to determine that 20 to 30 percent of a contract is based on whether the supplier can report transparently on its own emissions.
Cameron agreed, adding that there is a need for industry and regulatory cooperation on standardization otherwise it would not be possible to capture and reduce Scope 3 emissions.
The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN Alliance) and Rakuten Symphony recently shared ideas for a methodology to assess the sustainability quality of telecom equipment and third-party operations.
Another key challenge outlined by telcos surveyed by STL Partners relates to accelerating the circular economy, which is closely related to Scope 3, and finding ways to reuse or recycle elements in the value chain.
Interestingly, operators also lacked clarity on how 5G and virtualization will impact carbon emissions, despite numerous claims by analysts and telecom players that the next-generation mobile network is much more energy-efficient than previous generations.
Some telcos, STL notes, are experiencing difficulties in getting buy-in from key stakeholders when it comes to improving their sustainability credentials. Here, Cameron argued that environmental sustainability can not only be the responsibility of teams focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR), but that every person and level within an organization must be involved. In that regard, she suggested that the employee bonus structure should not only be about meeting financial, operational or customer engagement goals, but also meeting some sustainability goals.