Mobile service providers, especially those with operations in developing countries, tend to fall into a common trap when it comes to energy management: focusing all attention on site-level solutions rather than an overall, long-term strategy.
Such site-level solutions tend to be stand-alone projects where energy management is treated separately from other network and operational activities, and the focus is only on off-grid sites.
This type of band-aid approach might work in the short term, but eventually it will come back to bite providers as energy costs continue rising.
“Without a strategic energy plan, OpEx costs can increase dramatically while service deteriorates,” notes Xavier Belet, Director of Alcatel-Lucent’s green consulting services group, in a recently published white paper Green Transformation For Mobile Service Providers. “What’s required is a comprehensive global approach to energy management that assesses current usage and incorporates the groundbreaking opportunities created by new alternative energy sources.”
A comprehensive energy management strategy must take into account, and realistically address, the challenges inherent with using alternative sources in developing countries. A green transformation plan will include capital investments in energy infrastructure necessary to meet energy needs today, and the demand of tomorrow as mobile services become even more popular.
In the white paper, Belet discusses levers available to optimize total cost of ownership (TCO), what’s needed to develop a green transformation plan, tips for mitigating risk, successful business models, and best practices for energy management.
To begin with, there are two main ways to approach optimizing TCO: cut consumption (use less kilowatt hours to operate the network) or cut costs (lower the cost of each kilowatt hour). Cutting consumption is best achieved through optimizing equipment, network design, and site environment. Evolving IT systems also helps. Cutting costs is best achieved by examining energy production and storage optimization, and by adding monitoring and process automation systems.
All of this planning and optimizing does come with risk, of course. And for mobile service operators, that’s no laughing matter.
“The goal for any network provider is to mitigate risks, including the risk of spending money on the wrong technology, of failing to manage the network, of having OpEx run out of control, of dealing with constant network failures, among many others,” Belet said in the white paper.
Risk factors for energy management can be categorized as external or intrinsic. External factors include fuel prices, availability and reliability of the grid, climate information, and fuel theft. Intrinsic factors include growth of power consumption resulting from increased telecom traffic, technologies used and deployed, existing energy site plant resources, engineering of sites, and existing IT systems and operations processes. The best thing mobile operators can do is take a long-term view of energy management. This starts by defining an energy strategy vision, using that to develop a strategic plan, and incorporating that plan into the overall telecom vision. It helps to explore different business models, integrate IT systems and operational processes, define energy KPIs, and build a global business case for a long-term energy plan. Successful strategies over the long haul are those that start with an implementation road map.
To learn more about smart energy strategy for mobile service providers, read the full white paper from Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert).