PARTNER FEATURE: Orange Poland is establishing itself as a pioneer in the operator space as the company embraces technology to drive down energy usage of its networks as part of a wider company goal to become net zero by 2040.

Speaking to Mobile World Live in an interview at Huawei’s Extended Reality studio at MWC Barcelona 2022, Daniel Piechocki, Director of Infrastructure and Services Maintenance at Orange Poland, highlighted the operator has already reduced its energy consumption by 16 per cent compared to 2016.

That puts Poland’s largest operator well on track to help Orange Group hit its global ‘Engage 2025’ strategy goals. In December 2019 Orange Group stated that to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, it will reduce CO2 emissions in 2025 by 30 per cent compared to 2015 and ensure 50 per cent of the operator group’s energy will come from renewable energy sources (compared to 18 per cent in 2020).

Piechocki said Orange Poland is concentrating on two “key pillars” to help reach the Engage 2025 goals.

“First of all, we have a special energy optimisation program, where we have over 200 initiatives to help minimise extension of energy growth. You have to be aware that when traffic is growing we need to put additional capacity in the network, and that means additional servers and so on, it’s additional consumption.”

“Another point is we are concentrating on changing our energy mix from  black to  green. It’s important for us to buy green energy on the market, directly from its producers.”

As part of the objective to source new green energy, Orange Poland has recently signed two contracts. The first involved a power purchase agreement, buying energy from dedicated windfarms (“the first such contract in our country,” noted Piechocki), and this was followed late last year by a “virtual” version of a power purchase agreement (the first time Orange Group has signed such an agreement).

“These are two major actions where we are focusing  on to improve the environment and minimise the impact of our activities on the environment,” explained Piechocki.

Keeping 5G under control

Of course, new 5G networks enable superfast download speeds and very low latency, but they also require intensive forms of power. Piechocki said it is “crucial” to keep the energy consumption of 5G networks under control.

Orange Poland is therefore embarking on a programme to ensure networks are not “wasting” energy when not in use.

“The cheapest and the greenest energy is the energy we are not using,” reflected Piechocki. “We need not only our own efforts, suppliers should also support us in this, for example, by implementing a ‘zero volts, zero loads’ concept. It means that when we are not using the network, when the customer doesn’t use the data, consumption should be close to zero.”

The operator is also moving away from legacy equipment and encouraging customers to migrate to more efficient technology. “For example, FTTH (Fibre To The Home) is eight times more effective in terms of energy consumption than old copper technology,” noted Piechocki.

“Last but not least, we are developing the concept of green data centers where energy is coming from green sources.”

Continuing the success

Looking ahead, Orange Poland realises it is only at the start of a long journey on the road to Orange’s global net zero ambitions by 2040. But the operator is excited for the future.

“We will continue our strategy,” concluded Piechocki. “We will concentrate a lot of efforts to look for other opportunities in terms of signing new power purchase agreements and finding potential vendors and partners [to work with] in this area.”

Watch the full video interview here