Enabling a low carbon economy

By enabling objects such as street lights, buses, and buildings to send real-time information via our network, organisations can improve efficiency, and reduce costs and carbon emissions

Enabling a low carbon economy

Communications technology can play a significant role in enabling a low carbon economy by powering innovations that can reduce carbon footprints while bringing wider social and economic benefits.

Vodafone is a leading provider of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) solutions that enable objects or devices such as cars, traffic or street lights and buildings to send and receive real-time information via our network. This information enables our enterprise and business customers to gain insight into how their resources are being used. This in turn can help them to cut costs and carbon emissions, by, for example, reducing their energy and fuel use and thus improving the efficiency of their operations. Looking ahead, it is clear that M2M technology has the potential to reduce the impact of not just businesses, but entire cities.

Other products and services, such as video conferencing, cloud hosting and collaboration technologies can also bring carbon savings by reducing the need for travel and office space (see our Enterprise site for more on our smart working solutions).

Read on to find out more about our approach and our performance in 2014/15. For more on how we are managing our own carbon footprint, see Minimising our carbon footprint.

Quantifying carbon savings from our solutions

Building on our Carbon Connections (pdf, 1.9 MB) research, we have been working with the Carbon Trust to quantify the carbon savings that Vodafone products and services can bring for our customers. We focus our analysis on four different types of solutions that enable carbon savings:

  • smart metering
  • smart logistics and fleet management
  • call conferencing
  • cloud and hosting services.

Based on this analysis, we estimate the total carbon savings from Vodafone’s solutions in these areas was 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for active connections in 2014/15, 50% more than in 2012/13. We aim to extend the carbon savings we can help our customers achieve by increasing uptake of existing carbon-saving products and services, and developing new ones.

To measure carbon savings from other solutions, we plan to develop methodologies to apply to areas such as our mHealth mobile solutions and connected car services. We will also continue to publish case studies demonstrating how our work with customers has helped them achieve carbon savings (see examples below).

In focus: M2M technology

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) solutions connect physical objects, enabling them to send and receive real-time information which can then be acted upon. This offers significant potential to reduce carbon emissions by giving businesses the ability to monitor and control devices remotely, saving energy and fuel and increasing efficiency. Watch our video to find out more.

Building our M2M business to deliver cost and carbon savings for customers

We increasingly have the ability to connect not just people but objects, including machinery and vehicles, via the Internet of Things. By the end of 2020, there will be an estimated 2.6 billion mobile M2M connections worldwide1.

As a market leader in M2M solutions, Vodafone has an opportunity to deliver significant efficiencies for enterprise and business customers using M2M connections and related services – many of which have the potential to reduce carbon emissions. Our business is growing in this area as more customers use M2M to reduce wastage and inefficiency.

Helping our customers to reduce their operating costs is a clear benefit of M2M services, but enabling the potential for the reduction in a company’s carbon footprint is also an important motivation for many businesses to use this technology. Carbon-reducing applications for M2M technology are wide-ranging – from improving fleet operations and making utilities more efficient, to enabling wider use of electric vehicles and monitoring stock levels in vending machines remotely.

We now supply approximately 9 million active global M2M connections that enable carbon reductions by supporting smart metering, transport and logistics (see examples below). We offer these services through our dedicated M2M business, supported by a team of specialists and an in-house technology platform that enables us to offer customers centralised data collection and analysis. We work with our enterprise customers to tailor our products and services to meet their needs in this area.

Our partnerships with hardware and software companies like NetComm Wireless and Device Insight enable us to offer customers an end-to-end service, making it simpler for them to implement M2M technology.

In focus: Driving smarter vehicle solutions with M2M technology

With low running costs and minimal emissions, electric vehicles are great – until they run out of battery charge. Expanding access to smarter vehicle charging solutions is essential to the future success of electric vehicles. The New Motion, a Dutch technology company specialising in charging solutions for electric vehicle drivers, aims to do just that.

The New Motion’s charging points use Vodafone’s M2M global SIM connectivity to determine the exact use and cost for every charge, offering drivers a simple, more affordable and transparent way to charge their vehicle. Around 20,000 customers are using more than 12,000 of these charge points in the Netherlands and in a growing number of other locations in Europe. The solution was shortlisted for The Green Mobile Award at the 2015 Mobile World Congress. Read more about our work with The New Motion.

Car sharing is another way that commuters can reduce their carbon footprint and save money. DriveNow, a car sharing joint venture between the BMW Group and Sixt AG, is making it easier for people to reserve, collect and return vehicles. Using the Vodafone Global M2M Platform, DriveNow vehicles can be located by a smartphone application or online, where customers can also register for the service and seamlessly pay for hiring, fuelling and parking costs. Read more about our work with DriveNow.

Energy management and smart metering

Smart metering uses M2M technology to collect and analyse data about energy consumption. This data enables consumers and businesses to understand how they use energy and helps them identify ways to save costs and reduce carbon emissions through better energy management for homes, businesses and even cities.

For example, ASB Bank in New Zealand used real-time data on energy consumption – collected via our M2M connections – in its network of branches to target energy efficiency initiatives. Over three years, these initiatives have enabled the bank to reduce its energy consumption by 23% – equivalent to approximately £1,330,000 – and save over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Read more on our support for ASB Bank.

By enabling excess power to be sold back to the grid, smart meters also promote small-scale generation of renewable power from, for example, rooftop wind turbines or solar panels. M2M-connected smart meters are also central to the development of more efficient smart grids, enabling utility providers to transform the way they deliver energy.

Vodafone is supporting the rollout of domestic smart meters in several countries, working with energy suppliers such as Enexis, which has rolled out 500,000 smart meters to date in the Netherlands, and npower in the UK (see case study below). In India, utilities provider CESC has improved customer service and cut operational costs by achieving meter reading accuracy of over 99% using smart meters connected by Vodafone networks. Read more on our work with CESC.

Using Vodafone M2M connections, Spillsure Solutions is enabling real-time remote monitoring of domestic oil use in the UK. Spillsure Solutions uses an ultrasonic device to measure oil use every half hour. The device helps to improve householders’ understanding of their fuel usage, enabling them to better manage its use, costs and related carbon emissions – cutting annual fuel bills by 15–20%. Read more on our support for Spillsure Solutions.

In focus: Powering smart meters in UK households

Energy companies are working towards a challenging goal to install smart meters in all 26 million homes in the UK by 2020 as part of the Government’s efforts to meet carbon reduction targets. Vodafone’s M2M technology is working with energy provider, npower, to offer secure connectivity for smart meters. npower is delivering over 19,000 smart meters every week to UK households to meet its target of nearly 6 million in total over a six-year period. Read more on our work with npower.

Communications technology will play an important part in realising the Smart City concept which aims to create cities that are safer, more efficient and prepared for growing urban populations by connecting people with services and making infrastructure more efficient.

Vodafone’s M2M technology can also make cities smarter by helping them track water and energy use. For example, in Singapore thousands of M2M-enabled sensors embedded in the water grid have helped to reduce the leakage of treated water to 5%, compared with 24% in the UK and 13% in the US. A partnership between Venis, a locally based IT services company, Venice Council and Vodafone has resulted in a number of new services which have simplified relations between the council and users of local services through the use of M2M connectivity. These services are also helping to improve the security and quality of life of local residents in the city. From M2M traffic monitoring in downtown Venice, to a tidal alert system which has over 30,000 registered users and is in frequent use, and from a new system for consulting and accessing administrative forms online based on mobile phone technology, to a text-to-pay-for parking scheme, simplicity and convenience for users and for administrators are an integral part of the solutions we offer.

In focus: Bringing solar power to rural communities

To help bring power to people who do not have access to electricity, over 5,000 solar powered generators distributed by BBOXX and connected by Vodafone M2M SIMs are delivering off-grid power in more than 40 countries, primarily Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The units can be activated in less than an hour and are monitored remotely from the UK, allowing BBOXX to check for faults, install updates, track usage and monitor payments. Vodafone technology has enabled BBOXX to plan for rapid expansion to roll out four million units by 2020. Read more about our work with BBOXX.

Smart logistics

Our smart logistics products and services offer the biggest carbon saving potential for our customers. Tracking devices use M2M connections to communicate vehicle movements to fleet management systems and central software responds with route revisions that save fuel costs and emissions. Information about vehicle loads means spare capacity can be used more efficiently and vehicle condition reports can spot problems so they can implement preventative maintenance. Drivers are also encouraged to drive in a more fuel-efficient way.

TomTom’s navigation technology, connected by Vodafone’s networks, allows companies to track vehicles and monitor driving habits – contributing, for example, to Zenith Hygiene Group being able to cut its average carbon emissions from 15kg to 11kg per day, thanks to more efficient driving techniques. Around 1,500 buses in the Netherlands have been fitted with tracking devices provided by telematics solutions provider Sycada, which deliver real-time feedback on driver performance. These tracking devices, connected using Vodafone’s M2M technology, are expected to improve fuel efficiency by more than 5% a year, saving the Connexxion transport group over £2 million. Read our case studies on how our M2M solutions are being used by Sycada, TomTom and Zenith Hygiene Group.

Notes:

  1. Machina Research, M2M Global Forecast & Analysis 2011–12