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5G Could Help Save CO2 Emissions


The fact is as data traffic increases there will also be an increase in energy consumption. Researchers from the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) have simultaneously discovered that 5G will cause around 85 percent less CO2 emissions in 2030 than 4G would. According to the study, 5G technology can save a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

The team of researchers from the University of Zurich and Empa has analyzed the effect 5G will have on the climate. One thing is clear: 5G technology can curb greenhouse gas emissions because it will allow the use of new applications and be more efficient.

The new 5G mobile communications standard significantly increases the efficiency of data transmission. Image: James Yarema for Unsplash

With the ever-increasing digitalization of our society, the question arises as to what potential this digital change has for climate protection. The University of Zurich and Empa concluded that despite an expected eightfold increase in future data traffic, 5G will reduce CO2 emissions. 5G technology will be more efficient and enable innovative applications such as more precise agriculture and the use of smart grids.

Additionally, the study examined the construction and operation of the infrastructure of a 5G network. Expressed in kilograms of CO2 equivalents, the climate impact can be calculated using life cycle assessments. The production and use of a typical business laptop, for instance, causes around 32 kg of CO2 equivalents per year. The 4G network will still exist in 2030, but will only be able to hold around 20 percent of data traffic. The study shows that the expansion of the 5G network and the new equipment required for new applications on 5G should cause about 0.18 megatons of CO2  pollution in 2030. However, new applications will potentially save up to 2.1 megatons of CO2 emissions.

The 5G network in 2030 should cause around 85% fewer emissions per unit of data transported than today’s mobile phone network. The faster, more reliable data transmission supports flexible working, which in turn reduces commuter traffic and business travel because virtual collaboration can be carried out more efficiently in the 5G network.

Additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through new technologies that will only emerge with the expansion of 5G networks, such as hands-free driving, tele-surgery and intelligent buildings. The bottom line is 5G will help improve technologically and it is better for the environment.

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