Sustainability: how Nokia is helping broadband meet the 1.5°C target
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. The need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels was reaffirmed by the recent meeting of COP26, an event that highlighted just how crucial it is that everyone acts immediately to avert an environmental catastrophe.
At Nokia, we’ve set ourselves ambitious sustainability goals to reduce our environmental impact. In 2017, we were the first telecommunication equipment supplier to join the Science-Based Targets initiative, SBT provides companies a clearly defined pathway to take action on how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And in September 2019, at the United Nations climate summit, Nokia joined a select group of companies in committing to recalibrate our existing climate targets in line with the 1.5°C scenario.
We’re investing heavily in innovations to reduce power consumption and make it easier for network operators to switch to more efficient technologies and operating practices. The critical solutions we create are keeping people connected and enable sustainable industries.
As part of our contribution to halting climate change, we fulfilled our commitment to recalibrate our SBT targets and are now targeting to cut emissions by 50 percent between 2019 and 2030 across our value chain. Achieving this target requires efficiency improvements in network power consumption, continuously driving for more data bits per kilowatt of energy.
We annually report product energy consumption according to the Code of Conducts for Broadband Communication Equipment from the European Commission. The Code sets the (maximum) electricity consumption for fixed broadband equipment sold in the EU and manufactured or procured by participating service providers, network operators, equipment and component manufacturers.
A more power-efficient chipset is key. Thanks to using the in-house developed Quillion chipset, we are able to reach the ambitious 2023 Code of Conduct targets today, 2 years earlier. This allows to build line cards for fiber and copper broadband with higher port densities and higher throughput per watt. In turn, this leads to smaller nodes, which occupy less space. We also integrated energy-saving features such as powering down unused optical modules (which is better than just switching the laser off per port - saving up to 1.5W for GPON) and improved intelligent fan tray control algorithms to reduce energy consumption and cooling when not required. This can bring power savings of more than 50 percent in the broadband network and helps operators to meet their emissions goals.
This also means that thanks to this power-efficiency, we expect that the carbon footprint of our broadband access networks could reach 50% reduction. Add to this the transition of traditional copper-based technologies to fiber technologies and we may see a greater reduction towards 2030.
This whole transition is achieved while increasing bandwidth for end users. We took into account that XGS-PON and 25G PON technologies will gradually overtake GPON to provide true gigabit services. This trend is important as it shows that the explosion in demand for data does not necessarily lead to a massive increase in GHG emissions. Fiber is a key tool for mitigating rising energy consumption compared to a business-as-usual scenario with growing usage and increasing penetration of broadband.
Future-proof scalability and higher capacity make full-fiber networks the most energy efficient solution. Replacing copper-based DSL connections with full fiber-to-the-home breaks the link between bandwidth demand and power consumption. VDSL requires many more active components in the network than PON and so consumes more power. But when one also considers the far greater bandwidth of GPON compared to VDSL, the net gain can be a 12-fold improvement in Bits delivered per Watt consumed. XGS-PON takes this even further, delivering five times the bandwidth of GPON for only twice the power consumption, with another positive impact on the energy efficiency.
These innovations, alongside the Design for Environment program, circular economy principles, and a commitment to bridging the digital divide, come together in our Broadband Zero ambition: our innovation power supports our goal of zero communities being excluded from the socio-economic benefits of high-speed broadband, and zero waste.