Mobile technology could cut Europe’s annual energy bill by at least €43 billion (approximately $61 billion) and reduce annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 113 Mt CO2 equivalent by 2020, according to a report by Vodafone, in collaboration with Accenture. This represents 18 percent of the UK’s annual CO2e output in 2008 and approximately 2.4 percent of expected EU emissions in 2020, according to the study.
The report, titled “Carbon Connections: quantifying mobile’s role in tackling climate change,” indicates that mobile technology has the potential to be a major catalyst in driving carbon reductions across a range of industry sectors if industry and governments can collaborate. The study identifies 13 opportunities that could enable carbon abatement across 25 EU countries.
The report categorizes the opportunities for carbon abatement into two main categories: smart machine-to-machine (M2M) services, which represents 80 percent of the carbon savings, and dematerialization, which accounts for the remaining 20 percent of the potential energy savings.
M2M services include smart grids, smart logistics, smart logistics, smart manufacturing and smart cities, while dematerialization is the substitution of physical goods, processes or travel with “virtual” alternatives such as video-conferencing or online shopping. The report details both benefits and barriers for each potential opportunity.
The study shows how these technologies can play a role in carbon abatement, while providing a cost savings to businesses and governments.
However, to achieve the potential savings in terms of both energy use and carbon emission reductions, 1 billion mobile connections would be required, of which 86 percent will be M2M services. The study notes that a significant amount of capital investment will be needed to deploy some of these services.