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Reducing emissions in our operations

We are committed to achieve net zero emissions from our own operations by 2030.

We have set a near-term target, approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, to reduce the emissions from our own operations in line with the pathway required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Vodafone is the first major telecoms operator to follow the emission reduction pathway developed for the ICT sector which sets out specific emissions reduction trajectories for mobile, fixed and data centres.

Despite ever-growing use of data and expansion of our networks, this year our total Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions decreased by 10% to 0.97 million tones of CO2e, due to our ongoing focus on energy efficiency and an increase in the proportion of renewable electricity purchased.

We are committed to continually improving the energy efficiency of our base station sites and in our technology centres, which together account for 93% of our total global energy consumption.

Our goals

To reduce the emissions from our operations to net zero by 2030 and across the full value chain by 2040.

Our approach to reducing emissions

We have defined a hierarchy of actions which defines our approach towards meeting our commitments:

Energy Efficiency

  • We optimise energy use. For example, we use software and big data analytics to optimise energy use by powering equipment up and down according to data traffic patterns.
  • We invest in in our network to drive energy efficiency improvements. For example, we are deploying newer generations of mobile network technology - such as moving to 4G/5G, which is five times more energy efficient than 3G.

On-site renewables and alternatives

  • Renewable generation on our sites (e.g. ground roof-top, car parks)
  • Zero carbon alternatives (EVs, f-gases, H fuel cells, bio fuels)
  • For example, we are collaborating with others to develop self-powered mobile masts in the UK, micro wind turbine solutions in Germany and renewable micro grids in Africa.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

  • Long-term supply contracts with renewable developer
  • We currently have PPAs in place in 6 countries. When fully operational, these will generate approximately 40% or our grid electricity demand in Europe by 2025.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

  • Matching the grid electricity we use with renewable sources through recognised renewable energy certificate systems such as European Guarantees of Origin or iRECs
  • We are beginning to work together with governments and power producers to create a new blueprint for renewable power purchasing in South Africa and Egypt.

Certified offsets

  • As a last resort, we will neutralise any emissions that we cannot abate through purchasing credible certified carbon offsets
  • We will limit the use of carbon offsetting to 5-10% to reach our net zero targets, in line with good practice industry standards

Optimising our energy consumption

We are committed to continually improving the energy efficiency of our base station sites and in our technology centres, which together account for 96% of our total global energy consumption. During 2021, we invested €65 million capital expenditure in energy efficiency and on-site renewable projects across our business, which has led to annual energy savings of 135 GWh.

Our commitment to energy efficiency has been underpinned by the implementation of the ‘best-in-class’ ISO 50001 Energy Management System framework. To 11 operating companies with other markets due to be implemented in the framework in the next year.

How we use energy at Vodafone

Key energy efficiency initiatives we have focused on during this year include:

  • sourcing and deploying more efficient network equipment and powering-down carriers during times of low traffic
  • gradually switching off the 3G network (which is typically 70% less energy efficient than 4G) and decommissioning legacy equipment in our core network
  • deploying high-density pods (modular blocks with concentrated power and cooling technology) to maximise the performance of servers and minimise cooling requirements within data centres
  • reducing energy demand by installing lower-energy power and cooling technologies
  • using AI algorithms in our passive infrastructure, allowing us to optimise energy use in cooling

We continue to work with eSight Energy to implement an energy data management system using data feeds from our electricity suppliers and from smart meters. This system is now live across 11 markets in Europe, with smart meters installed at 45,000 sites. This year, we developed new energy modelling capabilities for active mast equipment and data centres.

Purchasing renewable electricity

This year, we spent approximately €846 million on purchasing electricity. During the year, 77% of our electricity purchased was from renewable sources (2021: 55%).

This year we reached our target of powering our entire European operations with electricity from 100% renewable sources. This was achieved from July 2021, a significant acceleration of our original target of 2025. We currently have Power Purchase Agreements (‘PPAs’) in Spain, Greece and the UK. PPAs trade at a discount to current wholesale electricity prices and provide us with more economic certainty against current volatile wholesale electricity prices, as well as helping to create new capacity within the markets.

Following our energy purchasing hierarchy approach, we prioritise energy efficient practices before considering on-site generation of renewable energy, PPAs and Renewable Electricity Certificates (‘RECs’). Whilst on-site generation of renewable electricity currently accounts for less than 1% of our overall renewable energy consumption due to space constraints on our infrastructure, we continue to trial innovative solutions, such as the micro wind towers in Germany. The remainder of our renewable energy consumption is split between PPAs 5% and RECs 94%. Most RECs are bundled either via green electricity tariffs or provided by our electricity suppliers, however a small amount are considered ‘unbundled’ for example, to cover our consumption on third party sites. The purchase of unbundled RECs is our least favoured approach, however it is necessary in certain circumstances. For example, where we are tenants and electricity is procured by a landlord, or where our preferred options are not available due to limitations in a particular market. The incremental cost of RECs (or their equivalent) is small in the context of our overall energy spend.

Learn more about Vodafone’s approach to renewables
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Our strategy in action

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Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals

We aim to build a inclusive and sustainable digital society. Through our connectivity and digital innovations (SDG 9) and through our partnerships (SDG 17) we can accelerate and scale delivery across multiple SDGs.

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Vodafone provides women with access to life-enhancing services which help to unlock socio-economic opportunities and help to address inequality. We also champion the inclusion of women in the workplace.

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Vodafone is committed to helping people develop their skills in order to address the mismatch between future workplace needs and the current skills of the new generation.

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

We are working to reduce the amount of energy required to run our networks and services while meeting increasing customer demand for data.

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