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Utilities Examine 5G Energy Efficiency

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
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  • Jan 3, 2023

5G is an emerging mobile wireless network technology that enables energy companies to deploy edge applications, such as smart meters and smart buildings. As the technology gains traction, its energy consumption and carbon footprint have become critical purchasing considerations for utilities. The new network increases energy needs, but renewable options are emerging to lessen its environmental impact.  

5G services are becoming quite popular. They generated $48.25 billion in 2021, and the number is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.7% from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.

One reason for the interest is 5G works well with edge computing, an emerging computing paradigm. In this case, certain processing tasks are done on route from an end system to a data center, creating new concentration points. 

Energy companies are using the new network services in a number of ways. 5G supports internal communications and is especially effective with new remote employees and field work. The network option meshes well with smart meter applications and provides utilities with a way to deliver more intelligent home and business energy services. Smart buildings are one more area where the new network option can be more powerful, more efficient, and less costly than traditional solutions.

The Focus on Sustainability

5G, like other technology enhancements, comes at a price. The new networking technology could increase power consumption 61 fold from 2020 to 2030, according to ABI Research.

Energy companies are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, and the new networking option uses more energy than its precursors. Therefore, they want to adopt the technology in an eco-friendly manner.

As they deploy 5G systems, they can couple them with renewable energy sources. Utilities have been working internally and with suppliers and customers to find green renewable energy sources. For instance, they have been crafting energy generation plans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) based on renewables.

A Few Roadblocks Emerge

But, energy companies must overcome a few hurdles to deploy 5G in an environmentally friendly way. The infrastructure needed to interconnect 5G and renewable energy systems is in a nascent stage. So, they must work with partners to fill in the missing pieces.

They also must train their grid and technology staff about how to install and manage the new solutions. In some cases, they may rely on a third party to deliver the needed expertise.

Energy companies are embracing 5G technology because it works well with many modern applications. However, the new network option does increase energy consumption, so utilities need help from partners to implement it in an environmentally safe manner.



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