How 5G can benefit the environment

4G already plays a major role in protecting and maintaining our environment, as well as reducing emissions and in turn climate change and its impact. But 5G has the potential to take this even further. Here, Mobile UK explores how 5G can help to protect our environment and reduce our carbon footprint…

Identifying environmental problems early

5G technology can measure and monitor the environment much more quickly and easily than humans and existing technology can. 5G-enabled technology has been used for the timely identification of toxic algae in the ocean, supporting preventative action to take place.

5G connectivity, working in combination with artificial intelligence, has helped to uncover illegal logging in Costa Rican rainforests in real-time, giving rangers a better chance to catch the culprits. 5G-enabled technology has even encouraged pandas to breed by identifying mating calls and replaying them during narrow fertility windows. In short, 5G is helping us to look after the planet, something that we all benefit from.

More environmentally friendly transport

Information on road conditions and traffic flows can be collected by sensors. This information can be seamlessly organised and communicated using 5G, then used to optimise the fuel efficiency of your vehicle and reduce traffic flows and congestion. CO2 emissions will fall – as will the cost of running your car.

5G will also eventually be used as the digital connectivity that underpins driverless cars and trucks, managing vehicle convoys on motorways that minimise energy consumption. Trials of these driverless vehicles are already underway.

A widespread reduction in power consumption

5G-connected devices will allow us to reduce our energy use and emissions, so we have a less negative impact on the environment. Multiple devices will connect to each other, so they know when they’re in use and can powerup or down accordingly. 5G will also allow us to download data in a more efficient way, so we use less energy. Smart energy meters will help to reduce household energy use, and smart transport systems will help us produce fewer emissions when we travel.

Limiting environmental damage from food waste

Some estimates suggest that 30% of food is lost “between farm and fork”. 5G-enabled technology can make the food supply chain more efficient. Sensors and data mean that the use of water, electricity and fertiliser in agriculture can be minimised.

Sensors and data can also mean the remote monitoring of refrigerated shipping containers, addressing power losses and equipment failures as they distribute across the globe. Fundamentally, less food waste means less energy has been wasted in producing it – and less impact on the environment.

Detecting leaks and reducing water wastage

Water lost through leaks in the UK’s water network are estimated to equate to three billion litres of wastage daily – that’s the equivalent of 1,268 Olympic swimming pools. But 5G-enabled technology is being used effectively by Vodafone and SES Water to detect and address problems, using specialist devices to spot and alert teams to leaks as they happen.

5G-powered technology can penetrate deeper into the ground and offer wider coverage, alerting SES Water immediately so that it can take action to fix leaks, low pressure or any abnormalities affecting water supplies. The project has already cut leakage by 15% and is laying the foundations to more than halve it by 2045.

Supporting the transition to green energy

5G can reduce CO2 emissions by supporting the transition to green energy. 5G technology can accelerate the move to renewable energy as its low latency (quick-response) connectivity maintains stable and reliable frequency across the grid. For instance, 5G’s advanced real-time technology helps to maintain grid frequency to within 1-2% of 50-60 Hertz mitigating against blackouts and minimising surges and waste. The infrastructure also supports supply and demand peaks and troughs of renewable energy supply, improving its reliability.

Reducing emissions across many industries

5G will act as the facilitator to the reduction of emissions across a wide range of industries, including construction, transport, manufacturing and the energy sector.

5G-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have been effectively used in Shanghai, China, to cut the carbon footprint of gas pipe inspections. Reducing the need for manual inspection and land vehicles reduced emissions by 49% and the scheme’s success will be replicated widely across the industry due to its effectiveness and low carbon footprint. If 5G-powered UAV pipeline inspections are rolled out globally, the emission reduction will equate to the energy used by everyone in the world charging a smartphone for 100 days.

Find out more about the benefits of 5G by visiting Mobile UK's website

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