Towards zero emissions and lower energy bills
In radio networks, for example, our customers are already deploying Nokia AirScale base station solutions which feature new software that reduces radio module and system module energy consumption and even use zero energy in the absence of network traffic. In 2016, we modernized 27% more base stations than in 2015, achieving average energy savings of 43% for our customers, compared to non-modernized networks. This reduces the environmental impact from electricity consumption and is directly reflected as increased financial benefits for our customers.
Another major source of inefficiency is the Radio Frequency power amplifier. Roughly half of all the energy consumption of a mobile network is lost as heat in the RF power amplifier. In 2016 we acquired EtaDevices which specialize in power amplifier efficiency across base stations, access points, and device usage, to support our goal of improved energy efficiency and lower power bills for our customers.
In IP and optical technologies, with our own developments such as the Photonic Service Engine (PSE) for optical transport and FP3 Network Processor for service and core routers we are able to drive greater product performance and energy efficiency. In fixed networks, technology shifts that change the architecture of networks, such as DSL copper lines to optical fiber technologies like GPON, and new developments that allow the doubling of capacity in optical networks, deliver more with minimal increases in power consumption. In the summer of 2016, Nokia also acquired California-based start-up Gainspeed, focusing on virtualized CCAP solutions for cable MSOs. Real-world deployment examples show that a Virtual CCAP solution provides a 10X increase in fiber efficiency, uses less than 10% of the power and requires less than 10% of the rack space of a traditional CCAP solution at about 45% of the capital expense and 35% of the operating costs.
Reducing power consumption
On top of product/technology specific energy efficiency developments, we see opportunities to reduce power consumption through greater efficiency on the network system and architecture levels. Heat loss is a significant sign of energy inefficiency. Designing environmentally hardened equipment that needs no external heating or cooling, can, for example in mobile base stations, halve the power consumption. At the system level the use of sleep mode when there is no traffic can also provide power efficiencies. The introduction of small cells nearer the end-user will offer greater opportunities to further develop energy efficiencies and is an area we are investigating regarding use of solar energy. Putting the energy source at the point of energy consumption also eliminates all the transmission line losses.
Making zero emissions a reality
We have continued to develop our Zero Emission base station solution; now a group of 20 products and services that can reduce an operator’s CO2 emissions. Our Zero Emissions solution reduces site energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 60 percent and Total Cost of Ownership by up to 30 percent compared to an LTE overlay solution. With the additional use of renewable energy sources (solar, wind, and fuel cells), our customers can further reduce CO2 emissions, potentially reaching zero emissions operations. We also for example sponsored the Renewable Energy Conference in Florida in December 2016 and demonstrated our Zero Emissions solution, including the Bell Labs innovation in base station site liquid cooling, The liquid cooling innovation was also shown at Mobile World Congress in February 2017 in Barcelona.
Today 120 customers use at least one zero emission product or service, and 104 use renewable energy sources through Nokia. We believe we can do more to drive for carbon-free base station operations.
Glass is always greener
Optical networks deliver much more data, much more quickly than any other available technology, they do so using far less energy and space, making it the greenest option to support data networking needs. Traditionally this technology was limited to large-scale data transport and broadband access networks, but now – after the introduction by Nokia of its Passive Optical LAN (POL) product – fiber has become an option for local area networks (LANs) in office buildings, campuses, hotels, and other venues, which have historically been wired up using traditional copper Ethernet cable.
POL offers enormous benefits for companies of all kinds in terms of meeting fast-growing bandwidth demands, while reducing power consumption overall. But now we also have some outside validation from a small team of researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who documented just how great the power savings from POL can be. In their paper entitled Energy-Efficient Passive Optical Local Area Network1 Researchers from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering conducted a battery of measurements coupled with network modeling comparing POL to conventional copper Ethernet LANs. Through this effort they determined that POL (based on Nokia’s G-PON technology), could deliver power savings of up to 82%, which, put simply, represents enormous savings.
The energy efficiency benefits of Nokia’s POL is among the reasons that Environment Canterbury, the government agency responsible for air, water, and land management in and around the city of Canterbury, New Zealand, opted to deploy it in their new headquarters. Following a devastating earthquake in 2011, several facilities that housed Environment Canterbury’s staff were destroyed. They decided to build a new facility to bring several hundred of their employees together, and wanted it to reflect their commitment to sustainability. As you can imagine, finding a greener alternative to traditional Ethernet LAN was among the design criteria for the new building. In Nokia POL, they found a solution that aligned perfectly with their environmental mission.
1 Please note this research is pending publication in an academic journal and will be available online at a later date.