5G: The gigantic power consumption 

October 30, 2022

5G

The European Citizens’ Initiative focuses on the massive power consumption caused by digital communication technology and 5G 

The European citizens’ initiative, “Stop (((5G))) – Stay Connected but Protected” , which the EU registered on October 7, 2021, contains a proposal for reducing the enormous digital energy consumption which, among other things, will be the consequence with the 5G network, which as a built-in consequence has the purpose that all devices must be able to communicate wirelessly with each other – Internet of Things (IoT).

Suggestion 12: Reduce power consumption

5G  : “An energy guzzler”.

5G is far from being a solution to climate change. On the contrary, the digital ecological footprint will reach its peak with 5G.

According to  industry reports  , energy consumption from wireless devices and networks will grow exponentially. Wireless energy consumption  will grow by 160% until 2030 , and 5G will increase  global CO2 emissions  by approx. 250 megatons.

According to  The Shift Project , which is an independent French think tank: “Energy consumption for information and communication technology (ICT ) is increasing by 9% every year. It is possible to limit this growth to 1.5% per year by switching to sober digital practices. The digital transition as it is currently being implemented is contributing more to global warming than it is helping to prevent it. There is therefore an urgent need for action.”

The environmental footprint of digitization has grown enormously and will continue to grow. There are e.g. there has been a sharp increase in the streaming of films in high resolution. Ultra HD requires ten times as much data as HD resolution , and with more data comes more energy.

Proposal 12 deals with the enormous digital energy consumption: 

“Reduce the massive power consumption caused by digital communication technology, e.g. by prioritizing wired solutions and low-energy solutions in the action plan for the European Green Deal”  (1)

EU directive on energy efficiency

According to Directive 2012/27/EU (2),  energy efficiency and the need to decouple energy consumption from economic growth are at the center of the Union’s energy strategy.
But many units violate the directive:

  • Wi-Fi routers , because the default transmission power is set to maximum and they are used in several frequency ranges at the same time: 2.4 / 5 /6 / 60GHz
  • Wireless smart meters because they unnecessarily consume energy by constantly monitoring devices and causing dirty electricity. Electrical/telephone and fiber cables can all be used to transmit smart meter data.
  • Energy consumption forecast for information and communication technology (ICT/ICT) devices and services:  smartphones, computers, data centers, antennas, internet, etc. By 2025, up to 20% of global electricity consumption  (3).
  • Furthermore,  greenhouse gases  from (ICT/ICT) will exceed 14% in 2040. (4)

With 5G, the ecological footprint of the digital economy will reach its peak, worsening the global eco-social crisis beyond possibility of return.

5G and energy consumption

The European Economic and Social Committee has published a document called  Secure 5G deployment – ​​EU toolbox  .(5)

From Point 4.1 it appears that:

“… The EESC considers it crucial that 5G is oriented towards achieving better circular resource utilization and reducing the large energy-related CO2 footprint. …” According to  The Shift Project  , an independent French think tank (6):  “Energy consumption for information and communication technologies (ICT/ICT)  increases by 9% every year . It is  possible to limit this growth to 1.5% per year by making use of sober digital practices.  The digital transition as currently implemented will contribute more to global warming than it will help prevent it. The need for action is therefore urgent.”

Frédéric Bordage: Use simple digital technology

According to  Frédéric Bordage , a French expert in green IT and digital sobriety, it is possible that  the environmental footprint of the digital world can be improved by using simple digital technology (7):

“The idea of ​​a simple digital technology is to use robust, simple, low-efficiency and widely used digital technologies like 2G, SMS, etc. to meet the daily needs. Most of the feedback collected over the last 10 years shows that this approach is not considered a regression, but instead has been well received by users and creates economic value. Radical eco-design aims to coordinate the use of low- and high-tech digital resources to best meet the needs of humanity while significantly reducing our digital footprint. To finish with a simple example, it is not necessary to have the latest generation smartphone connected in 4G or 5G to access weather forecasts. A simple SMS makes it possible to send the forecast on a 2G mobile phone. On the other hand, calculating weather forecasts requires the use of advanced technologies.”

Miguel Coma: 5G will not contribute to a sustainable future

Miguel Coma , telecommunications engineer and information technology architect, argues in his article ‘Green 5G or red alert?’ (8) that  5G will not contribute to a sustainable future, as Huawei claims  in Green 5G: Building a Sustainable World.

“Today, I want us to realize how much energy 5G would consume: over three times the total amount of energy that Sweden uses for industries, transport, electricity, housing, schools, etc. combined. If 5G is made globally, it will require the construction of 36 new generation nuclear reactors, 7800 massive offshore wind turbines or similar power plants using other energy sources.

5G would increase CO2 emissions by 250 megatons (Mt CO2).  That is seven times Sweden’s total CO2 emissions, or a quarter of the emissions generated by aviation worldwide (before Covid-19).

It would most likely compromise our goals for CO2 neutrality and reduced emissions.
Huawei  states that information technology (ICT/ICT) can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other industries by 15% by 2020. This claim is based on an old (2008) report (9) that examined most aspects of worldwide ICT/ICT . Regarding broadband mobile networks (3G, 4G, 5G), it actually reported increasing greenhouse gas emissions and no potential CO2 savings in other sectors.

The 5G antennas must use much larger batteries than 4G antennas , which only increases the global energy consumption.

Manufacturing  larger batteries will increase ore extraction and greenhouse gas emissions.

5G is also expected to  shift data traffic from existing wired networks to far less efficient mobile networks.  Given the huge amounts of energy (three times Sweden’s footprint) that 5G will need, mainly from fossil fuels, Huawei’s repeated use of the term ‘sustainable’ when describing 5G is confusing at best.”

The Aarhus Convention

According to the Aarhus Convention (10), EU citizens have the right to  ensure that the most scientific data is taken into account when the EU adopts policies to protect the environment. Citizens have the right to access environmental information, to participate in environmental decision-making processes and to access the courts. In connection with the rollout of 5G, EU citizens have  not been asked whether they want the ubiquitous wireless digital development that  will apparently provide a enormous increase in energy consumption as well as an increasing CO2 footprint. These are very important issues that our politicians do not talk about!

Legal arguments for the proposal

Treaty on European Union (TEU)  (11)

  • Article 3, subsection 3. :  “The Union creates an internal market. It works for sustainable development in Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy  aiming for full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of environmental quality.  It promotes scientific and technological progress.”
  • Article 21, letter f :  “to contribute to the preparation of international measures to protect and improve the quality of the environment and the sustainable management of global natural resources with the aim of ensuring sustainable development”  Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)  (12)
  • Article 4,  letter i: on energy.
  • Article 191:  on the precautionary principle and environmental protection.
  • Article 194 , letter c:  “promote energy efficiency and energy conservation and the development of new and renewable forms of energy.”
  • Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR)  (13)
  • Article 37:  on environmental protection: ” A high level of environmental protection and the improvement of environmental quality must be integrated into the policies of the Union and ensured in accordance with the principle of sustainable development.” 
  • Aarhus Convention  (10)
  • According to the proposal for a regulation on amending the Aarhus regulation:  “The EU institutions need to engage with the public if the European Green Agreement is to succeed and deliver lasting changes. The public is and should remain a driving force for transition and should have the means to be actively involved in developing and implementing new policies. 

Sources:

1)  Citizens’ initiative:
https://europa.eu/citizens-initiative/initiatives/details/2021/000009_da
The full document with links and references:
https://nejtil5g.dk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/EU -borgerinitiatiet-Draft-Legal-Act-Aug.-7.-2021-accepteret-7.-oktober.pdf
1)  European green deal:  https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024 /european-green-deal_en
2)  Directive 2012/27/EU:  https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32012L0027
3)  20% increase in energy consumption:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320225452_Total_Consumer_Power_Consumption_Forecast
4)  GHG: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095965261733233X
5)  Secure 5G deployment – ​​EU toolbox:
https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/our-work/opinions-information- reports/opinions/secure-5g-deployment-eu-toolbox
6)  Shift project: “ The Shift project is a French think tank that advocates the transition to a post-carbon economy. As a non-profit organization committed to serving the public good through scientific objectivity, we are dedicated to informing and influencing the debate on the energy transition in Europe.”
https://theshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Lean-ICT-Report_The-Shift-Project_2019.pd f
7)  https://www.greenit.fr/environmental-footprint-of-the- digital-world/
8 ) Red Alert:  https://wsimag.com/science-and-technology/64080-green-5g-or-red-alert
9)  Huawei: increasing greenhouse gas emissions and no potential CO2 savings in other sectors:
https://gesi. org/research/smart-2020-enabling-the-low-carbon-economy-in-the-information-age
10) The Aarhus Convention: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/pdf/legislative_proposal_amending_aarhus_regulation.pdf 11 )  EU Treaty: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:2bf140bf-a3f8-4ab2-b506-fd71826e6da6.0021.02/DOC_1&format=PDF 12)  Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DA/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN
 
13)  Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR):
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DA/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:C2012/326/02&from=EN

Source:

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