Electricity Consumption and Operational Carbon Emissions of European Telecom Network Operators

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Dag Lundén
Jens Malmodin
Pernilla Bergmark
Nina Lövehagen

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This study presents operational electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for named European telecom network operators during 2015–2018. These results are also compared to data for 2010–2015. The study provides an extensive primary data set, collected from European Telecommunication Network Operators (ETNO) members, covering operations in Europe and beyond, providing data with higher granularity than publicly available sources. The collected data set corresponds to roughly 36 percent of European subscriptions and 8 percent of global subscriptions. This data set was used to calculate the aggregated annual electricity consumption for the assessed operators, as well as associated subscription intensities, in total, for Europe and per network type. Moreover, aggregated electricity-related carbon emissions and emissions from other sources were calculated. Finally, estimates were made for the overall network operation in Europe for 2018 and 2020. The study concludes that the electricity consumption and number of subscriptions for the reporting telecom network operators remained nearly constant (+1 percent and −3 percent, respectively) between 2015 and 2018, while data traffic increased by a factor of three. For the extended period of 2010–2018, the electricity consumption per subscription remained quite stable, slightly below 30 kWh/subscription despite substantial data traffic growth (by a factor of 12).