Press Release | 06 Dec 2023

Transforming wind farms with 5G could help generate enough additional clean energy to heat 2.4 million UK homes, enough to heat every home in Scotland

This would be equivalent to removing 700,000 petrol cars from the UK's roads by 2035.

  • The latest Vodafone UK research quantifies the additional energy generated by using 5G Standalone technology across the renewable energy sector. 5G can help make production and distribution more efficient, alongside the emissions savings brought about by avoiding gas and coal power. 
  • The research reveals that 5G has one of the greatest potentials in wind power generation, where the additional clean energy generated is enough to heat an extra 2.4 million homes by 2035, which is the same number of homes as in Scotland**. This is a total reduction of 63 million CO2e emissions, the equivalent to removing 700,000 petrol cars from our roads by 2035*. 
  • However, this can only be achieved if mobile operators can invest in rolling out 5G across the UK at scale and at pace.
  • The proposed Vodafone and Three joint venture will pave the way for UK 5G leadership, with a pledge to invest £11 billion and reach over 99% of the UK population with 5G Standalone by 2034. 

5G-enabled technologies could help deliver huge emissions savings, accelerating the UK’s renewable energy transition, according to new economic modelling*.

The modelling reinforces the environmental benefits of 5G Standalone (5G SA), particularly when it comes to making the UK’s renewable energy production and distribution network more efficient to further reduce our reliance on natural gas or coal-powered generation.

New research reveals 5G technologies could help create a greener ‘farm-to-fork’ journey, saving enough emissions as removing 78,000 delivery trucks from UK roads

If 5G technologies were applied across the food and drink supply chain, they could save 37 million tonnes of CO2e equivalent emissions between 2024 and 2035. That’s the same as removing 78,000 delivery trucks from UK roads. 

The research indicated that across renewables, wind power generation gains the greatest benefit from 5G technology, particularly through drones, sensors and remote monitoring systems to drive infrastructure efficiencies from the wind farm, right through to homes.  

However, these efficiencies can only be achieved with the timely rollout of a 5G SA network. That is why, following completion of the proposed joint venture, Vodafone UK and Three UK have committed to investing £11 billion in the first 10 years as a combined business which will help deliver 5G Standalone coverage to 99% of the population by 2034.

This critical infrastructure will deliver a far superior network that will allow us to build towards the UK’s digital future faster, facilitating the innovations needed to support the UK in its Net Zero journey.  

The modelling conducted by WPI Economics for Vodafone reveals that harnessing the power of 5G in wind power generation could reduce total CO2e emissions by 63 million tonnes, the equivalent to taking 700,000 petrol cars off the road by 2035. 

This is enabled by technology such as:

  • 5G remote maintenance drones which could increase the energy capacity of wind farms by 8GWh by 2035, providing a much-needed solution for wind turbines that are often prone to failure. Over time, this could translate into an additional 27 TWh of energy output. When considered alongside the UK’s annual electricity consumption of 320.7 TWh in 2022, this additional output would be a significant stride forwards in renewable energy generation.   
  • 5G-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) solutions which take advantage of 5G SA’s low latency for real-time monitoring of wind farms to ensure operations can run smoothly. IoT and machine learning can also optimise the angle of each turbine, enabling them to stand closer together, which could lead to a 30-68% improvement in the wind farms’ capacity.  
  • 5G smart grids which use IoT to collect complex datasets like wind speed, temperature and power output and effectively share real-time information that enables more effective monitoring of the grid, with millisecond-level precision – extremely important because of the variable nature of wind-generated energy, which can contribute to significant, unpredictable demand on the network. 

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Making the switch to renewable energy is fundamental in the UK’s Net Zero journey and I’m excited about the role 5G Standalone can play in accelerating this transition.

“5G SA is critical in making renewable energy outputs more reliable, efficient and boosting capacity. This makes the need for a faster 5G rollout even more important.

“As a combined business with Three UK, when the proposed joint venture completes, we will be committed to helping the UK deliver on its climate ambitions by investing £11bn over the next decade in rolling out 5G Standalone across the UK, reaching over 99% of the UK population by 2034 and helping the UK’s energy industry decarbonise sooner.”

Harvesting the wind | Vodafone's new 'self-powering' mast goes live

Vodafone switches on the UK’s first live ‘self-powering’ mobile phone mast in Egwlyswrw, Pembrokeshire. Feature a wind turbine, solar panels and rechargeable battery back-up, the technology could support the race to net zero and also help bring connectivity to ‘not-spots’ in remote and rural areas. Check out our full self-powering mast story here. Stay up-to-date … Continued

Yusuf Patel, Chief Technical Officer, EDF Renewables UK and Ireland said “We welcome the findings from Vodafone’s research that highlights the importance of 5G technology in facilitating the innovations needed to support the UK on its Net Zero journey. It is clear that by working together we can build a lower carbon future and confirm the UK’s place as a global leader in decarbonisation technology.” 

In June 2023, Vodafone launched the UK’s first public 5G Standalone network, 5G Ultra, creating one of the most technologically advanced networks for customers.

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The estimated figures are based on analysis by WPI Economics using trusted data sources, including data from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, Department for Transport and the ONS, as well as academic literature. Overall benefits are calculated based on a Theory of Change flow, which breaks down the total effect into discrete effect channels identified through a literature review. Benefits coming from each channel are estimated and summed together (where applicable). The analysis presents emissions avoided between 2024 and 2035, assuming a staggered implementation of 5G-enabled solutions over time. The estimates are based on official government projections of CO2e emissions by industry, and the projected changes in sources of energy generation. 

*Data sourced by WPI Economics for Vodafone in November 2023.

**This is a rough estimate using data from the Scottish Census which states there were 2,372,777 households in Scotland in 2011.  

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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