Vodafone commits to 100pc renewable electricity by 2025

23 Oct 2018

From left: Senior TED Fellow and author Dr Rachel Armstrong with Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O'Leary. Image: Julian Behal

Mobile and broadband operator Vodafone outlines its sustainable business goals for the next few years.

Vodafone Ireland has committed to have its network powered 100pc by renewable energy by 2025.

The company revealed this plan as part of its Sustainable Business Report in which it also outlined transformational goals, including greater diversity and equality, and plans to boost youth skills and jobs in Ireland.

‘Imagine a world where we can use natural waste to power your mobile phone and heat your home’

In terms of its energy and environment goals, Vodafone said that urgent action is needed on climate change, and a key drive is underway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 40pc by 2025.

Moving to 100pc renewable energy by 2025 will be no mean feat as it will impact all aspects of its operations, from data centres to powering fibre networks, masts and cell towers.

In 2016, the operator was awarded ISO 50001 certification and, based on projects arising from this, it estimates annual energy savings of 5,626,000kWh. It is also in the process of securing ISO 14001 and 45001 certification to drive transport, waste and energy initiatives.

Vodafone said it also plans to use its expertise in the area of narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) to drive smart metering technologies and clever products for the home.

Vodafone’s Mountain View office received an LED lighting upgrade in 2018 that has a projected annual saving goal of 1,920,328kWh and adds up to a saving of 508,000kg of CO2 every year.

The company has also begun a campaign to remove single-use plastics from the workplace, removing 7,000 disposable cups from the waste stream every week as well as 2,000 single-use plastic bottles per month.

The report was launched by senior TED Fellow and author Dr Rachel Armstrong who proposed a vision for the future where biotechnology meets social and economic impact. Armstrong is working toward a goal whereby homes of the future will have microbial bioreactor processing facilities that can take waste and turn it into fresh water and energy.

“Since the industrial revolution, there has been a disconnect between the natural world and the machines we use in our daily lives,” Armstrong said. “Now, however, it is possible, through advances in biotechnology, to connect the organic world with the digital world so that the two forces can work together to build a more sustainable future.

“Imagine a world where we can use natural waste to power your mobile phone and heat your home. This is what my research and the concept of ‘living architecture’ is all about. Much of this is now possible but the scale of change required to accommodate and facilitate a merging of these two worlds is enormous. The fact that Vodafone Ireland recognise their role as a large corporation in driving this agenda and facilitating conversations about sustainability is very important to the progress of our research.”

Equality and inclusion

Vodafone revealed that at senior leadership level, 63pc of executives are women and the overall leadership community within the company amounts to 50pc female. It aims to become Ireland’s best employer for women by 2025 and to be recognised as a top 10 place to work for LGBTQ people in Ireland.

In 2015, Vodafone Ireland implemented group-wide maternity policy of 26 weeks’ paid maternity leave and, on return, a six-month ‘ramp on’ period where new mothers work four days a week for a full week’s pay. The company also provides two weeks of paid paternity leave and flexible working options for fathers.

Youth skills and jobs

The mobile operator has revealed plans for supporting younger people to get on the career ladder, reaching 10,000 people through graduate, intern and work experience programmes by 2025. It also said it plans to help 37,500 15- to 24-year-olds gain access to digital skills by 2025.

“We are proud to be a purpose-led business and this new report reflects our long-term commitment towards a sustainable Ireland,” said Natalie Hodgess, head of sustainability at Vodafone.

“Our vision is to lead change by working with our colleagues, customers and communities to deliver positive social, environmental and economic outcomes whilst reducing our negative impacts. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report clearly laid out the immediate need for government, businesses and nonprofit organisations to work together on the pressing challenges we face, and we are up for the challenge.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years