Ericsson's Eco-Friendly 5G Site in Texas Raises the Bar for Sustainable Connectivity

By Greg Tavarez July 18, 2023

Ericsson, a provider of telecommunications technology and services, is steadfast in its commitment to creating a world where boundless connectivity transforms lives, reshapes industries and spearheads a sustainable future. Ericsson (News - Alert)'s overarching objective is to forge a path toward the future through digitalization while minimizing adverse impacts on the environment. In pursuit of this goal, the company adopts a circular economy approach, ensuring that every step taken aligns with sustainable practices.

Ericsson has launched several initiatives aimed at safeguarding the environment and working toward a net zero future. By the year 2040, the company aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain. This ambitious target will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including Ericsson's valued customers. By collaborating closely with its clients, Ericsson believes that this milestone can be attained, resulting in a greener and more sustainable world.

To mark a significant milestone on this journey, Ericsson has set its sights on a goal to become net zero in its own operations and to reduce emissions in its supply chain and portfolio by 50% by the year 2030. This ambitious endeavor showcases the company's unwavering commitment to tackling climate change and actively working towards a more sustainable future.

Ericsson took a step in that endeavor with a new smart and sustainable 5G site in Plano, Texas. The site anchors Ericsson's position as a leader in sustainable mobile networks and showcases the integration of energy-efficient solutions with use of renewable energy sources.

Distinguished by its reliance on solar energy, the Plano 5G site has the potential to operate solely on solar power for a 24-hour period, supplemented by advanced Lithium-ion batteries. By sourcing power from renewable energy sources, Ericsson embraces an impactful decarbonization strategy for mobile networks. However, the challenge lies in implementing this strategy intelligently and cost-effectively, a challenge that this energy-smart site successfully tackles head-on.

With features like load shifting, peak shaving, and demand response, the site optimizes battery usage based on electricity rates, ensuring cost efficiency while maintaining uninterrupted connectivity. This dynamic strategy allows for multiple daily cycles, capitalizing on favorable electricity prices for optimal energy utilization. By reducing operating expenses related to energy costs, operators can contribute to reaching net zero goals while also exploring potential revenue streams from utility companies.

Unlike traditional off-grid sites that heavily rely on fossil fuel-based generators, this sustainable proof-of-concept demonstrates the power of intelligently orchestrating multiple energy sources and storage technologies. At the heart of the site's capabilities are components such as the ultra-lightweight mid-band Massive MIMO AIR 6419, RAN Processor (News - Alert) 6651 and Enclosure 6160. This advanced system comprises a solar shelf 6670, lithium-ion batteries 6612 and controller 6610, enabling seamless hybrid energy operation and control.

“This smart-sustainable 5G site serves as a tangible proof point of Ericsson's leading position in building sustainable mobile networks," said Kevin Zvokel, Senior Vice President and Head of Networks, Ericsson North America. "Operators can now utilize untapped assets, thanks to this technology, creating new energy cost savings opportunities."

Looking ahead, the project's second phase aims to explore additional green energy alternatives, such as hydrogen-based generators, to further reduce reliance on diesel. Additionally, the site will seek interoperability with power grid vendors, allowing for the optimization of local energy generation and consumption, with the possibility of selling excess power back to the grid using net metering. Leveraging Ericsson Network Manager features like the Policy-based Battery Saver, operators can strategically reduce energy consumption by switching off specific radio frequencies, ultimately enhancing network resiliency.

"Ericsson's smart site solutions for hybrid energy sources are designed to help operators control costs and increase profitability – especially in rural or remote areas or private networks, where traffic volumes are lower and power consumption needs to be especially efficient,” said Ed Gubbins, principal analyst at Global Data. “Using a variety of tools to increase energy efficiency and sustainability can be helpful for improving operator profitability."

In addition, this site serves as a test bed for evaluating radio hardware and software solutions that improve energy efficiency in conjunction with smart-site technologies. It opens doors for collaboration with utility companies in areas such as grid frequency, voltage regulation and demand response, fostering innovation and synergy between telecommunications and energy sectors.

Edited by Alex Passett
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