Vodafone UK teamed with a power connectivity company to provide 5G capabilities to electricity substations, seeking to advance clean energy in the country and improve efficiency.

The tie-up with UK Power Networks will see Vodafone conduct what it dubbed a world-first trial to connect parts of the former’s electricity network with high-speed 5G technology.

In practice, computers will be installed in electricity substations so they can communicate with each other in real time over 5G to improve efficiency, running over “a dedicated, highly secure slice of Vodafone’s standalone network”.

The companies explained increasing efficiency will enable more clean energy sources and low carbon technologies to connect to the network.

Third parties including General Electric, ABB and Siemens, in addition to the University of Strathclyde will also develop and demonstrate software solutions enabling each substation to automatically edit the configuration of the network to run more efficiently, enabling quicker response to changes to the electricity network or future demands caused by large-scale shifts to renewable energy, electric vehicles and heating.

New York and back
UK Power Networks’ partnership with Vodafone contributes to its wider Constellation Project, which aims to advance a UK net zero carbon emissions target set for 2050, as well as create opportunities to use more renewable energy on the network.

The companies estimate if the 5G-powered solution being trialled is rolled out nationwide, it could remove 63,702 tonnes of CO2 by 2050, the equivalent to carbon emissions from 38,607 return flights from London to New York.

Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone, said UK Power Networks had seen “the huge potential of 5G and network slicing”.

He noted 5G “is not only replacing older and more expensive technologies, it is bringing about new capabilities that benefit everyone, consumers, businesses and our environment”.

Vodafone recently announced that every part of its business in the UK was 100 per cent powered by electricity from renewable sources.