Smart Metering Helps 02 Cut Energy Costs

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The mobile provider has been awarded The Carbon Trust Standard for its recent efficiency drive.

Mobile operator 02 claims it has managed to cut its energy costs by 15 percent over the last three years by installing technologies such as smart metering and encouraging staff to switch off idle resources.

02, has become the first UK mobile operator to be awarded The Carbon Trust Standard by the environmental organisation, the company, which is owned by European telecoms provider Telefonica S.A, announced late last week.

The key issue underpinning the sustainability drive was the realisation that improving energy efficiency and saving carbon doesn’t involve a massive financial investment, said O2’s chief executive Ronan Dunne, in a statement.

“For O2, we saw some of our early wins from simple initiatives such as changing heating and cooling patterns in the offices and contact centres and our awareness-raising ‘Flick the Switch’ campaign targeting energy wastage,” he said.

02 claims to have saved 47,000 tonnes of CO2 as a result of its efficiency initiatives but did not release a specific figure for total cost savings over the three years.

Dunne added that by trying to make the company more sustainable, 02 has managed to improve its bottom line without spending excessively.  “Really, it’s all about listening to your people and suppliers, and addressing their needs with minimal energy consumption,” he added.

02’s smart metering technology addresses a major problem with energy efficiency – the inability to accurately measure energy consumption, regularly cited by environmental organisations and consultants as a major hurdle in improving efficiency. Smart metering addresses the problem by providing real-time accurate information on what resources are using energy and exactly how much.

02 claims it has invested around £1.4m in smart metering technology to monitor its real-time energy consumption across cell sites, retail premises and offices.

Despite the cost and carbon savings achieved by 02, some mobile industry commentators claim operators and handset manufacturers could still do more to improve their environmental sustainability.

Leith Campbell, principal consultant for telecoms analyst group Ovum claims that the environmental damage caused by the mining of Coltan ore, for example, must be addressed.

“Coltan is a key component of mobile phones and IT equipment. It’s a toxic substance that should be carefully recycled – and isn’t when we throw out our old phones and computers. But coltan is also the ‘blood diamond’ issue for the industry,” he said in a statement on the analyst’s website. “In the Congo, the mining of coltan has funded and prolonged a civil war in the east of the country. It has spawned a global movement under the banner of ‘No blood on my cell phone!’.

Other measures taken by the mobile network provider include installing more energy efficiency technology in its telecoms network, removal of air conditioning on certain cell sites and replacement with free-cooling fan boxes, the use of LED lighting in retail stores, advanced boiler controls for all main gas boilers and educing PC monitor standby times

The Carbon Trust Standard was launched in June 2008 with the support of Environment Secretary Hilary Benn and Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden.