Mobile technology is set to be a driving force in helping governments and industries meet their carbon-reduction targets, while at the same time saving costs and driving growth opportunities for the mobile industry.
It is now commonly agreed that ICT solutions have significant potential in reducing CO2 emissions. Studies indicate that about 15 percent of global CO2 emissions can be reduced with low carbon ICT solutions by 2020. Much larger reductions can, however, be achieved with an innovation-driven agenda that focuses on transformative solutions.
Peter Lacy, Head of Sustainability Services for Accenture in Europe, Africa and Latin America, says: “By shifting from a product to a service perspective, we can use the connectivity of 21st century infrastructure to provide many of the services people and businesses need, instead of only replacing products with marginally better ones.”
“Economic development and carbon reductions not only go hand in hand, they can benefit from each other. For this to happen, we need an innovation-driven approach, which can deliver measurable savings and smarter ways of doing things. This can increase quality of life while dramatically reducing emissions.”
Companies are now looking for smarter solutions that save money and reduce CO2. In a recent collaborative report entitled Carbon Connections (pdf), Accenture and Vodafone identified several key areas that represent business opportunities here.”
Many of these low-carbon ICT solutions complement each other. Even if they look different from a user perspective, they depend on the same infrastructure — an infrastructure where connectivity will increase over time, Lacy says.
“These solutions have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 113 megaton (Mt) CO2 emissions per year and cut associated energy costs by EUR 43 billion across the 27 EU countries by 2020. To achieve these savings, 1 billion mobile connections are required.”
Lacy says that delivering these smart solutions may come at a cost, requiring investment in hardware and software to be enabled by wireless connectivity. The 1 billion connections needed will also require investment. But the long-term returns to customers can be significant and represent a clear business opportunity for telecom companies.
“Some of the opportunities identified particularly smart grid and smart cities, demand relatively high capital expenditure and would take a number of years to deploy,” he says.
“However, these opportunities yield significant returns over the longer term. Other opportunities, such as virtual office, require relatively small investment with rapid payback. Accenture achieved a 300 to 500 percent return on the monthly operating costs of its 30 telepresence terminals through significant savings in business travel.”
Lacy says: “Governments have an important role in creating the policy framework to stimulate uptake of these smart technologies. But it is vital that operators promote interoperability and standardization of services to enable wide-scale deployment and adoption across countries and industries. This is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of mobile communication to make a significant contribution to driving the shift to a low-carbon economy, as well as creating profitable growth opportunities”
For more information on the Accenture and Vodafone report ‘Carbon Connections’ visit: www.accenture.com/sustainability