Many of the Sustainable Development Goals are intuitively linked to the world of the environment, energy and environmental sustainability: this is the case, for example, of the goal to prevent and control climate change, the goals relating to terrestrial and marine life, and those relating to the design of smart cities.
The fight against climate change in particular represents a challenging and urgent goal. On 11 November 2016, Italy ratified the Paris Agreement to contain the global warming of the planet, which came into force internationally on 4 November 2016 when it exceeded the threshold of 55 countries signed up, representing 55% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
In recent years evidence of the effects of global warming (desertification, flooding, hurricanes, disease, ice melting) have even convinced sceptics that the problem needs to be addressed. The Agreement commits the signatory countries to contain global warming below a 2 degree rise above pre-industrial levels. Five-year checks on the undertakings are planned, starting in 2023. The richest countries will have to help the poorer ones financially.
Italy must comply with the targets set by the EU. Action is required in three key areas:
- renewable energy and energy savings;
- non-polluting mobility;
- building modernization, to make them less energy-intensive.
There is a clear benefit to Italy in acting rapidly and with profound steps to keep global warming below 1.5° C, as in that case the reduced availability of water would be halved and the duration of exceptional droughts would be reduced by 30% (with respect to warming of 2°)1, which tend to lead to desertification2.
TIM’s strategy promotes business in line with the aforementioned guidelines. In fact, the ICT sector plays a key role in the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not only because the sector itself can contain and reduce its own CO2 emissions, but primarily because it can contribute to the reduction of emissions in other sectors thanks to the development of innovative services that promote more sustainable lifestyles (such as, for example, video conferencing, telecommuting, telemedicine and, more generally, all services that encourage the “dematerialization” of the economy). International studies3 in fact believe that the adoption of these services could lead to a 20% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2030, thereby maintaining them at 2015 levels.
In this scenario, TIM signed a voluntary agreement in 2012 with the Ministry of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea (MATTM), aimed at promoting shared projects designed to measure, contain and neutralize the impact of the telecommunications sector on the climate. To this end, the procedures for analysing the typical services of telecommunications activities were defined with the aim of providing carbon footprint indicators in agreement with the methodology described in “GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard ICT Sector Guidance – Chapter 2” for services provided by TIM throughout the entire country: fixed network (telephone calls), mobile network (text messages, transferred data, calls), transferred data (including MMS).
The specific actions taken by the Group are therefore aimed at reducing its environmental impacts and offering technological solutions aimed at individuals, businesses and public administration for the creation of a more inclusive and viable digital society.
TIM is convinced it can play a key role, together and in synergy with other sectors of the economy, in facilitating the transition towards a low carbon emission economy.
The environment stakeholder consists of future generations and their right to live in a world not compromised by the negative effects of development by previous generations. The interests of this collective person are identified in the demands made by:
- national and international environmental organisations;
- national and supranational institutions;
- the community in general, particularly in the areas where TIM operates;
industry associations and non-profit organisations dealing with issues relating to the environment. These include the following in particular: European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), CDP, International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
TIM is attentive to the needs expressed by stakeholders interested in environmental protection and with them it has developed various communication channels, including a multi-stakeholder forum organized in October 2016. This tested method of listening and involvement reinforced the understanding of the demands and priorities of stakeholders on environmental matters and gathered contributions on possible development areas.
The environmental strategy of the Group’s companies is founded on the following principles:
- optimising the use of energy sources and other natural resources;
- constantly seeking to improve environmental and energy performance by reducing negative impacts and increasing positive ones;
- adopting procurement policies that take environmental issues into account;
- disseminating a culture that promotes a correct approach to environmental issues.
In order to ensure the effective and sustainable management of operational processes which have particular environmental impacts, TIM has equipped itself with an Environmental Management System (Sistema di Gestione Ambientale - SGA) which is ISO14001 certified. In some organizations, the Environmental Management system has been integrated with the Quality Management System based on the ISO 9001 standard: all of them having achieved the respective certification. Some websites1 obtained the certification of the Energy Management Systembased on ISO 50001 standard. As for the Data Centres, the energy efficiency of Rozzano 2 was found to be the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) value certified in 2014 amounting to 1.66, which can be considered a good value for a data centre built between 2008 and 2010. The PUE value of the other data centres has not yet been certified.
For further details on this subject go to the telecomitalia.com website.
The definition of fixed and mobile network architectures and the technical specifications of equipment and components also adopted criteria that minimise environmental impacts (e.g. consumption, excavation, obstacles, noise, use of batteries), while considering the service requirements and costs of the various solutions. As of 2008 in particular, in performing the financial assessments of bids, the energy costs over a period of three to five years are also considered.
Finally, TIM actively promotes, participates and in some cases coordinates national and international environmental projects.
To further demonstrate the commitment to contain environmental impacts, TIM invests each year in research on innovative solutions. TIM has had many patents recognized in this area.
As regards the adoption of ICT solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) applied to the smart city world, the following projects are mentioned in particular for their strong positive environmental impact: smart grid (application of the IoT to the management of various segments of the electricity grid), smart water (application of the IoT to water distribution networks), smart gas (gas metering applications) and smart waste (efficient management of the waste cycle).
With regard to smart grids, TIM is studying IoT solutions aimed at a better use of energy resources in terms of distributed generation and remote control. In particular, work continued on assessing the opportunity to share the telecommunication and power distribution network infrastructure, with a view to cutting costs and reducing their environmental impact.
As for smart water management techniques, the IoT solutions analysed allow research to be conducted and hidden water leaks to be identified more efficiently and at a lower cost. Water will become an increasingly valuable environmental resource and losses in the distribution network in the range of 30% will no longer be sustainable, from an environmental or economic perspective. Multi-utility smart metering solutions, which include water, gas and if necessary electricity based on widespread networks, are also being developed and tested in the field as part of research on losses and distribution cost optimization.
Finally, the application of IoT techniques will allow the development of smart waste solutions aimed at obtaining an increase in separated waste collection and a reduction in illegal dumping. In particular, for example, the filling levels of the various waste collection sites are measured in real time and waste collection vehicles are only sent when it is truly necessary, thereby minimizing the costs and times and on the other hand avoiding having full waste collection bins with the consequent overflow onto the street of waste left by citizens.
Patents for solutions with environmental relevance
Wireless top up
For some time in the international arena an efficient solution has been sought to replace conventional wired chargers with a universal wireless charger which would simultaneously charge mobile phones, mp3 players, notebooks, video cameras and anything else that has now become a part of our everyday lives, which are increasingly dynamic and nomadic. Exploiting wireless technology usually means doing without a physical connection between the charger and the device, and exploiting a wireless charger for several devices, even if they required different power voltages, such as a mobile phone and a notebook. This system allows for a more efficient management of the space, number of devices, and energy, where the energy transfer occurs in a non-radiative evanescent field with the resulting benefits in terms of the containment of interference and the biological impact in the environment surrounding the charger.
Automatic systems for managing domestic appliances
This patent relates to the sector of automatic systems for managing electrical appliances. The system which the present invention relates to is configured to automatically manage the activation and deactivation of electrical appliances belonging to a domestic network so as to reduce electricity consumption and avoid exceeding the maximum total power threshold. In particular, the central control unit of the system updates a schedule with the activation of each electrical appliance bearing in mind energy consumption and the relative constraints.
Automatic system for managing the energy consumption of sets of electrical equipment
The patent concerns an automatic system for managing energy consumption in sets of electrical devices, such as domestic appliances. The system invented is based on the generation of a table which plans the on/off times of domestic appliances and the execution of the energy phases of the operating cycles of each domestic appliance. Patents that reduce the electricity consumption of network Optimization of consumption in mobile phone networks The patent concerns the method of optimising consumption in mobile phone networks, in particular those characterised by deployment heterogeneity and, as a result, energy consumption heterogeneity in the network nodes, where relatively frequent transition states (on/off) can have negative impacts on the longevity of the network devices and the average time between breakdowns. The proposed algorithm is capable of determining, based on the maximum permitted number of state transitions for each network node as well as the current and expected loads of the network, the on/off moments of the network nodes.
1 Secondo Mauro Centritto, Direttore Ivalsa-CNR, “In Italia, gli ultimi rapporti mostrano che è a rischio desertificazione quasi il 21% del territorio nazionale, il 41% del quale nel Sud del Paese”.
2 Carl-Friedrich Schleussner et al. : Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5° C and 2° C – Earth Systems Dynamics 7, 2016.
3 #SMARTer2030 – ICT Solutions for 21st Century Challenges – published in 2015 by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.