Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, made a fairly important announcement this week. The company will increase its use of renewable energy, reaching 100% by 2025.
Telstra joins a growing list of socially responsible companies that are setting this same 100% renewable goal. Google, Apple, Nike, Walmart, Starbucks, Salesforce and Visa are all high profile examples of companies that moving to zero emission power sources.
As one of the largest consumers of power in the country, this announcement shows there is a way forward for companies to leave behind legacy generation types, in favour of completely sustainable wind and solar, combined with battery storage.
Those familiar with Telstra’s cellular towers would know that they have diesel generator backup, in the event the grid power is lost. For Telstra to move to 100% renewables, it would mean replacing these generators, with battery storage and lots of it.
Telstra consumes around 5.9 petajoules of energy each year and last year that resulted in nearly 1.3m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The company has already been working towards this goal for a while, with June 2020 representing a 3 year effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.
Telstra’s network is expanding all the time and as part of the 5G rollout, they’re growing the network infrastructure significantly. This means its tempting to thing the goal is close to half way done, in reality, there’s a lot to do in the next 5 years to meet this new target.
To achieve this goal, there are 3 key goals.
1. To be carbon neutral in our operations from this year, 2020
This means that we have to build on the great work we have already been doing to improve the efficiency of our energy consumption in our networks through the implementation of more efficient infrastructure and counteract the balance of emissions from our business via investment in carbon offsets. Offsets will be sourced largely from renewable energy projects both in Australia and the countries where we operate. This also builds on the certification last year of our sub-brand Belong as Australia’s first carbon neutral telco.
2. To be renewable leaders by enabling renewable energy generation equivalent to 100 per cent of our consumption by 2025.
In an inter-connected energy grid, new renewable generation has the effect of decarbonising the grid for everyone. To support this, by 2025 Telstra will own or contract renewable energy generation in Australia and our other business locations for output equivalent to 100 per cent of the energy we consume in all of our operations, including our networks, buildings and data centres by 2025. This will have the effect of helping to decarbonise the Australian electricity grid for Telstra and everyone else. It builds on our work to date in underwriting Australian renewable energy generation via Power Purchase Agreements including solar and wind projects. We will continue to invest in Australia and also tap into offshore certificate markets.
3. Reduce our absolute emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030
An ambitious target based on our commitment to the Paris Agreement that we announced last year and consistent with the associated ICT sector ambition. We will achieve this reduction through a range of initiatives including increasing investment in our energy efficiency program, advancements in new technology, building climate change considerations into long term business planning as well as the progressive decarbonisation of the electricity grid as the uptake of renewables grows.
It is important to appreciate a few key facts in Telstra’s ability to reach their new self-imposed target.
Telstra has contracted significant renewable generation and has registered as a market generator in the National Electricity Market for the purpose of supplying that renewable generation to the grid. Telstra is Australia’s biggest corporate grid-connected renewable Power Purchase Agreement writer. In this role, Telstra has underwritten projects (including investments at Murra Warra wind farm and Emerald Solar Park) that generate renewable energy equivalent to the energy consumption of 100,000 households.
At sites where Telstra has solar panels, they are combined with battery storage, and in total Telstra has the largest battery fleet in Australia. Telstra has been investing in climate friendly forms of storage and energy capacity (including hydrogen and lithium ion) for decades.
In February 2020 the GSMA announced a landmark Science Based Target for the telecoms sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Telstra was one of 29 major global telcos to commit to the Science Based Targets initiative and set reduction targets aligned to the Paris Agreement. The GSMA (which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide) is committed to helping the mobile industry achieve net zero carbon emission by 2050.
More information at Telstra Exchange.