Ericsson’s 5G site demonstrates how to be sustain

Site energy management and optimization

July 20, 2023

Ericsson has unveiled a new sustainable 5G site that combines energy-smart solutions with the use of renewable energy sources. The facility serves as a demonstration area for operators seeking further opportunities to reduce energy-related costs. The site could also eventually be used as a test platform for radio hardware and software solutions that aim to improve energy efficiency in conjunction with smart installations.

The 5G site can be fully operated by solar power supplemented by lithium-ion batteries for up to 24 hours. According to Ericsson, the use of renewable energy sources is the decarbonization strategy capable of generating the most positive impacts in the field of mobile networks, but putting it into practice in a smart and cost-effective way has been a challenge. This smart website aims to demonstrate that this is possible to implement.

“Mobile telecoms operators increasingly need to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions from their base stations without sacrificing network coverage or quality of user experience,” says Ed Gubbins, principal analyst at Global Data. He says smart site solutions such as those presented by Ericsson can help operators control costs and increase profitability, particularly in rural or remote areas, or for private networks where traffic volumes are lower and energy consumption needs to be especially efficient. “Initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiency and sustainability, including the use of solar power, lithium-ion batteries and advanced software features, can be helpful in boosting operators’ profitability,” the analyst adds.

Energy-efficient hardware
Source: Ericsson

The site employs the Massive MIMO AIR 6419 ultra-light mid-band, RAN 6651 processor with the 6160 cabinet, which comprises a 6670 solar shelf, 6612 lithium-ion batteries and 6610 controller for hybrid power system operation and control.

According to Ericsson, the facility uses the latest in hybrid energy system management, combining solar and energy storage sources to integrate clean energy and greater resilience into parts of mobile networks most at risk of outages. The site will have advanced features such as load shifting, peak shaving and demand response, seeking to effectively utilise batteries when electricity tariffs are higher and to recharge batteries when tariffs are lower. This dynamic strategy allows multiple cycles to be performed daily, ensuring more cost efficiency by taking advantage of the most favourable tariffs.

Ericsson explains that this proof of concept, which is a more sustainable alternative to traditional off-grid sites that are typically powered by fossil fuel-based generators, is designed to show operators how to intelligently orchestrate multiple energy sources and storage technologies to reduce OPEX related to energy costs and help meet sustainability goals. This approach can also help generate future revenue streams for utilities.

The second phase of this project will explore other clean energy sources such as hydrogen-based generators and interoperability with power grid providers in order to optimise power generation and consumption to sell it back to the grid with net metering. By using Ericsson Network Manager’s premium features, such as the policy-based battery saver, operators can switch off specific radio frequencies to reduce energy consumption and increase network resilience.

Networks in general need to be sustainable

Not only mobile telecoms service providers need to be sustainable. Sustainability is an increasingly critical consideration for any organisation and across a number of operational areas, including their network infrastructure. With digital transformation initiatives advancing across all industries globally, the demand for network services continues to grow. It is therefore reasonable to ask that network infrastructures are designed and operated responsibly to minimise energy and space consumption and thus also contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

Do organisations have sufficient knowledge and understanding of sustainability issues related to network infrastructures? Taking the Middle East and Pacific region examined by Juniper Networks in particular, it was found that 83 per cent of IT decision-makers had already decided to implement or are already implementing policies targeting sustainable network infrastructures. Moreover, the results suggest that support for this transformation will increase further in the coming years.

While there is consensus that policies and tools for sustainable network infrastructures are important, understanding of the issues and opportunities around sustainability remains fragmented among office workers and IT directors.

“The disconnect between leadership and employees when it comes to understanding the importance of sustainable networks can actually be a unique opportunity for many of our partners and customers who already work with sustainability in mind. Everything from compliance and regulation to brand perception and user experience, not to mention profitability and business growth, all have to do with sustainability. Network technologies underpin everything we do due to the increasingly pervasive digital transformation. And the environmental impact this has on people, countries, and the world must be considered,” emphasizes Gos Hein van de Wouw, Vice President EMEA, Juniper Networks.

For the executive, recruiting IT and technology talent that does not consider sustainability is a missed opportunity. Talent is critical not only to meet emissions targets, but also to broaden business perspectives on issues related to diversity, inclusion, transformation and more. With the right mix of people and network infrastructure, organizations can drive positive impacts in the world while advancing their digital transformation goals in pursuit of sustainable business growth.