DT to cut energy usage in Germany by 10% in two years

Deutsche Telekom has unveiled its latest sustainability targets, which include a pledge to reduce energy usage in its home market by at least 10 percent by 2024.

The German incumbent, like its peers across the world, has been talking up plans to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions, and work on sustainability, for a number of years. As such, there’s not a huge amount of new information resulting from the ‘Sustainability Day’ it held on Wednesday. However, the fact that the event existed at all further demonstrates that green issues are now a core area of focus for major telecoms players.

Deutsche Telekom’s 10 percent reduction target is in relation to 2020 energy usage levels in Germany, which moves it on a step from previous initiatives. It aims to achieve this goal by closing down various legacy systems, it said.

The new target dovetails with previous, and now reiterated, broader plans to double energy efficiency gains by the same date. However, this endeavour is still geared towards flat consumption across Europe, given that data volumes are increasing, the number of active network components is growing, and the networks are becoming increasingly dense. As the company detailed in its 2021 annual report, it aims to achieve this by decommissioning legacy platforms, including the PSTN, and moving to more efficient technologies, such as 5G mobile, in addition to using efficient data centres and rolling out AI.

The last is now viewed by many as something of a holy grail for energy efficiency in telecoms networks, given its ability to improve spectral efficiency and manage network load, amongst other things.

Deutsche Telekom noted that it is shooting for “further progress” in decoupling energy consumption from ever-increasing data volumes and repeated a pretty general aim for its operations outside of Germany: “The company aims to reduce its energy consumption all across Europe,” it said.

At group level, Deutsche Telekom’s energy usage is going up. Last year the telco reported consuming 13,323 GWh of energy – mainly in electricity, fuel, other fossil fuels and district heating for buildings – an increase of 3.7 percent on the previous year and up again from 9,324 GWh in 2019; its energy usage fluctuated at around the 9,000 GWh mark for the six years prior to 2020.

Those figures include the telco’s US operations though, so it’s hard to judge what kind of progress it is making in Europe. T-Mobile US naturally forms part of Deutsche Telekom’s energy-reduction endeavours, but its Sustainability Day focused mainly on Europe.

The telco also announced that by 2025, 50 percent of all its electricity requirements will be covered by power purchase agreements (PPAs), which are direct purchase agreements with renewable energy producers. The advantage of PPAs is that they give the energy producers greater security in their own investments, therefore Deutsche Telekom notes that it is further supporting the expansion of the renewable energy market in Germany and the rest of Europe.

At the end of 2021, the telco obtained 23.1 percent of its electricity – at group level – through PPAs, so its new target could make quite a difference.

“Our customers, but also our investors, consider it important that our company grows sustainably,” Deutsche Telekom quotes CEO Tim Höttges as saying, at the event. “It is not only the price of the products that interests them, but also the price paid by the environment. That is why we are redoubling our efforts, for example, to achieve climate neutrality and a circular economy.”

Of course, Deutsche Telekom is not the only one pushing the sustainability agenda. Across the border in France, the big three operators have all detailed power-saving initiatives in recent weeks, while Altice also shared details of a broader sustainability plan.

Deutsche Telekom’s first ever Sustainability Day feeds into a rapidly-growing trend.


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