Impact of the bushfires
The bushfires in 2019-2020 were shocking. Daily we witnessed our beautiful country being consumed by fire and turned to ash. The damage it did to our flora was severe, but perhaps even more heartbreaking was the devastation it brought upon our fauna.
From a local perspective - we witnessed what climate change really means, and it’s made many of us think about what we can do in response.
The science is clear. Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is causing adverse impacts for our economy, our environment, our communities and each of us. These threats are accelerating, and one of the biggest risks is believing it’s someone else’s problem to fix.
So earlier this year we set ourselves these 3 goals:
- Bring our operations to net zero emissions (carbon neutral) in 2020, certified by Climate Active
- Reduce our absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2030
- Enable renewable energy generation equivalent to 100% of our consumption by 2025.
We achieved carbon neutral certification for our operations in July this year and to achieve our remaining goals, we’re putting a clear focus on investing in renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and decommissioning our older and more energy intensive equipment.
Australia’s a big country and it takes a lot of power to connect us. As a result, Telstra’s one of the largest consumers of energy in the nation.
During the 2019/20 financial year, electricity consumption accounted for around 97% of our total greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy and fuel use.
These facts have driven us to draw a line in the sand. By 2025 we aim to enable generation of enough renewable energy to match all the power our networks and our buildings consume.
We now have power purchasing agreements with Emerald Solar Park in Queensland and Murra Warra Wind Farm in Victoria. Telstra’s the sole consortium member of Emerald Solar Park, which generates enough renewable energy to power approximately 35,000 Queensland homes each year.
We’re also 1 of 6 offtake partners in the Murra Warra Wind Farm, which this year supplied enough renewable energy to support almost 220,000 Victorian households.
Together, our investments at Murra Warra and Emerald generate energy equivalent to more than 30% of our total consumption; a significant step towards our ambition to enable renewable energy generation equivalent to 100% of our consumption by 2025.
In India, we have also purchased carbon offsets from 2 solar power projects and 3 wind farms as part of our carbon neutral certification. One of the solar power projects, ReNew Solar Power, has 26 separate solar farms with a total installed capacity of 927MW.
And we’re not done yet. Our team continues to search for new renewable investments, and explore opportunities to deploy modern energy storage technology.
Improving the energy efficiency of our network
Across the planet the appetite for data and traffic on the internet is still growing exponentially. Our network sites, which include our exchanges and data centres, are our largest users of electricity.
Notwithstanding the expansion of traffic, in FY20 we managed to decrease our total emissions as a company by 4.6% (compared to FY19).
In 2019/20 alone we invested $3.7 million in energy reduction projects, preventing 10,407 tonnes of CO2 emissions and more than 11,217 MWh of electricity usage.
We’re also continuing to make our fleet of vehicles more fuel-efficient. 20% of our operational fleet are now hybrid vehicles and fuel consumption is 22% lower than FY 19.
To help our business customers become more efficient, we’ve built a carbon calculator that invites organisations to calculate the potential cost, energy and carbon savings they’d enjoy if they move their on-premises IT to the cloud.
Decommissioning older equipment
Upgrading to efficient technology, and accelerating the decommissioning of older equipment is also a major focus. The rectifiers that convert our AC mains power to DC power, so we can run our telecommunications equipment, were recently upgraded and now achieve efficiency levels of between 96 and 98%.
As we replace old equipment with new, energy-efficient products we’re also seeing a reduction in heat load, which in turn lowers air conditioning needs and improves network reliability.
In total we’ve reduced over 3.2MW of equipment power by focussing on power-saving features, the migration of services to more efficient equipment, and reducing our reliance on older-generation equipment.
If the average Australian house consumes around 18KW* per day, that’s the equivalent of over 177 days of household electricity saved.
You’ll find more on how we’re acting on climate change here.