Domestic, foreign tech giants striving toward carbon goals
With focus on suppliers and customers, green energy to be key for ICT in 2020-30
Chinese and foreign tech companies are leveraging cutting-edge technologies to help their suppliers and customers cut carbon footprints and embrace renewable energy.
Their efforts come as pursuing sustainability increasingly becomes a consensus goal worldwide to slow climate change, and emerging technologies are seen as important enablers in helping reduce carbon emissions.
Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co has rolled out a zero-carbon network solution to help telecom operators accelerate green and sustainable development.
Currently, many telecom operators and traditional energy giants have proposed carbon neutrality goals. With the carbon neutrality movement emerging globally, the energy industry is likely to transform toward digitalization and low carbonization to achieve carbon neutrality, Huawei said.
Zhou Taoyuan, president of Digital Power Product Line at Huawei, said, "A zero-carbon network has become an important strategic goal for leading operators worldwide."
To help telecom carriers reduce energy use, Huawei's zero carbon network solutions converge with its intelligent power cloud technologies. The solutions offer telecom carriers simplified ways to use sites for building base stations, simplified equipment rooms and other green power technologies that can improve energy efficiency.
According to Huawei, 80 to 95 percent of the total carbon footprint of network equipment is due to power consumption during the use phase. As a result, the company also uses life cycle assessments to develop energy-saving technologies for its information and communications technology products and solutions that in turn help build greener industries.
Huawei is also embedding its artificial intelligence technologies into photovoltaic systems, which the company said can increase energy yields by 3 percent over traditional solutions, increasing the viability of solar power as a major energy source.
Huawei's smart photovoltaic solutions have already been used in Shanghai Shentong Metro Group's Longyang Road solar facility, which produced more than 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2020.
The company said its smart solar inverters can automatically detect damage and improve the facility's efficiency, and it has also provided smart solar plant solutions to Beijing Daxing International Airport.
Huawei's efforts are part of the global ICT industry's broader push to reduce carbon emissions. The International Telecommunication Union put forward a new standard in 2020 highlighting that compliance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement will require the ICT industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the ITU, said the ITU standard offers authoritative guidance on the pathway toward net zero emissions for the ICT industry.
"The standard is an example of what can be achieved with good collaboration between key partners. It represents a significant contribution to the international efforts in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals," Zhao said.
The shift to renewable and low-carbon energy is expected to account for the majority of the ICT industry's greenhouse gas emission reductions over the 2020-30 time frame, the ITU said.
ICT companies will also continue to achieve greater energy efficiency, incentivized by associated cost savings as well as revenue-generation opportunities stemming from ICT's increasing ability to improve energy efficiency in other industrial sectors, the ITU added.
Using technologies to pursue sustainable, greener development is also a top priority in China, which is striving to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, the country's top industry regulator, said earlier that China will encourage industrial firms and parks to cut carbon emissions and prioritize the use of renewable energy.
Amid such strong commitment to green manufacturing, foreign tech companies are also partnering with local suppliers to better protect the environment while producing high-quality products.
US smartphone giant Apple Inc, for instance, has set strict requirements and asked its suppliers to perform audits of their energy use and then implement projects to reduce their carbon footprints.
Apple said earlier this month that it is supporting the Suzhou Industrial Park in Jiangsu province to become the world's first industrial park to be certified by the Alliance for Water Stewardship.
The AWS is a global program that fosters collaboration between businesses, governments and civil society, offering a framework and standard for water stewardship. Water stewardship requires companies to take a broader view in working transparently and collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to take better care of precious water resources in their basins.
Isabel Ge Mahe, Apple's managing director of Greater China, said a quarter of the Suzhou park is covered by water and surrounded by lakes and rivers, and Apple is helping to improve water security in the region and extend water conservation efforts beyond its own supply chain.
"Apple will provide support and technical know-how, and encourage more companies in the park to manage their water usage in ways that are environmentally sustainable," Ge said.
To date, a total of 13 Apple facilities have received certification from the AWS, including 10 that reached platinum status. "All are located in China, which really demonstrates the region's leadership in this area," she added.
Apple and its suppliers in China have also continued to make progress on their joint 2019 commitment to directly invest nearly $300 million in developing renewable energy projects. The funds will be fully spent by the end of next year, supporting a wide range of projects that are expected to bring 1 gigawatt of renewable energy online, the company said.
"Working together with our partners here, we are helping to preserve China's clean waters to make the country even more beautiful for future generations," Ge said.
Last July, Apple unveiled its goal of being 100 percent carbon neutral across its supply chains and entire product lifecycle by 2030.
In the past year, 15 additional Chinese suppliers have committed to joining that program, and to transitioning their Apple production to 100 percent renewable energy, the company said.
As the world's largest personal computer maker, Lenovo is also leveraging its edge in digital technologies to promote green manufacturing.
Green manufacturing, also known as environmentally conscious manufacturing, deals with green principles that are concerned with developing methods for manufacturing products from conceptual design to final delivery to consumers, and ultimately to end-of-use green disposal, in order to satisfy environmental standards and requirements.
Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said: "As a leader of a business employing 63,000 people and serving customers in 180 markets around the world, I am acutely aware and focused on the wider role Lenovo plays in the world today. We have a responsibility to all our stakeholders to make progress on our climate change commitments."
The company expanded its commitment to sustainable operations with on-site renewable energy installations like the 3.9-megawatt solar panel array recently installed at its North Carolina facilities in the United States.
In November 2019, Lenovo announced a strategic partnership with Schneider Electric to develop smart green manufacturing solutions for the Chinese manufacturing sector.
The partnership combines Lenovo's industrial internet of things solutions with Schneider Electric's smart green manufacturing solutions.
In particular, the focus includes artificial intelligence algorithms and big data as it relates to all aspects of efficiency management, predictive maintenance, production quality and other industrial applications.
Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire said: "Making the next shift toward green smart manufacturing is critical to nurture a more efficient, low-carbon and sustainable future. Partnering with Lenovo is a great opportunity to further unleash the power of digital innovation in the physical world of manufacturing. A scaleup of IoT and smart solutions is key for greater efficiency and a more sustainable planet."