5G and Energy: Four Things Everyone Gets Wrong

Join The Warren Centre on the morning of Wednesday, November 27 to learn more about how 5G will rewrite the rules about how power systems and electricity markets operate in the future.

Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/5g-will-accelerate-renewable-energy-tickets-74643503729

A new generation of mobile communications is coming, and soon. But, what does this new technology actually bring with it? The implementation of 5G is being hyped as the catalyst for the fourth industrial revolution, fodder for political warfare, and the predicted cause of everything from the disruption of the energy grid to the end of data security as we know it. Countries around the globe have been testing 5G for years, including Australia, but it is now available in selected areas. 5G is an expensive investment, potentially adding new infrastructure and engineering costs to an operating mobile network. There is a global investment in this technology with the hopes that faster network speeds, lower latency, and more simultaneous connection capability will pave the way for other technologies such as autonomous cars, IoT devices, and more. Despite the hype, many are sceptical about its impact.

Let’s look at the facts. Here are four things everyone gets wrong about 5G:


It’s All About the Speed

Technology companies have announced that 5G will be one hundred times faster than 4G. Nearly instantaneous downloads and fast streaming speeds, great! But, that’s only half of the picture. 5G isn’t just faster.  It can transfer more data, and it communicates back and forth in an instant. How would the world open up if the internet were in real-time? 5G brings us closer to a completely connected world, wearables, IoT, a real-time cloud, driverless cars, connected trains, drones, smart fabrics, and endless possibilities! 5G has the power to shape any industry– from transportation, health care, agriculture, and manufacturing, to education. It will be a real driving force of economic growth and opportunity. 

5G Endangers Our Health

We’ve all had our struggles with adapting to new technologies. Whenever a new technology rises, people get scared. Mobile phones have been under scrutiny since they arrived on the market. Each generation has its fears, struggles, and concerns. Disruption of a way of life can be uncomfortable. 5G is no different than the other revolutionary technologies that have come before it. Remember how many people thought the internet was a sure way to end humanity?

One of the main concerns is in regard to electromagnetic radiation. There have been years of studies about the safety of mobile phones and radiation. Although there are no evidenced negative outcomes to exposure to non-ionizing radiation, naysayers point out that does not equate to verified safety. Simply put, they believe there might be unknown harmful effects. In theory, it is plausible. However, considering the length of time and the number of people currently exposed to mobile phones around the globe, as well as the amount of scientific attention focused on the subject, it is highly unlikely. Medical professionals are mostly in agreement with Dr Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale who says, “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect”. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki says 5G risks on social media may be fake news coming from notorious troll site Russia Today.  Our bet is that 5G is pretty darn safe, as long as you don’t use your fancy new 5G mobile while walking, driving, or operating heavy machinery. As Novella eloquently stated, “We’re still talking about power and frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

5G Threatens Our Safety and Security

Forbes released an article last year titled, “Is 5G a CIA plot?” Although a bit tongue-in-cheek, it was certainly poking fun at people that believe vehemently that 5G is going to endanger our freedom, security, and human rights. However, it isn’t only conspiracy theorists that feel threatened by 5G. Questions raised by a McKinsey & Company market study, probe into the value and cost of adding additional infrastructure. Comparisons were made between the profit and hype of 4G, as well as the vulnerabilities in unfettered connectivity. The reality is that vulnerabilities exist in every system and that security will grow with the network. The network rollout is still years away for the most part and will be gradual. Techradar points out that more data means more opportunity to steal, sell, or compromise that data. Andy Purdy, CSO for Huawei Technologies told Forbes he disagrees: “I believe that all communications networks need objective, transparent protections that hew to international standards. As we move forward, I think society must recognize that there’s no reason to believe that 5G will somehow make networks less secure than in the past. In fact, given the advanced new technology 5G brings to bear on network security, it can make networks more secure than they’ve ever been.” 

5G Puts the Environment at Risk

Electricity consumption has skyrocketed since computers were invented. In fact, Science Alert predicted that unless a major change in the construction of computer chips occurred, computers might require more energy than the world could supply in 2040. What a terrifying thought! No wonder 5G has caused people to ponder about modern reliance on technology. Here’s the thing– 5G actually uses less power. In fact, we will be able to apply 5G to managing the power grid or upcoming “smart grid”, which will help us better forecast and manage energy needs. A smart grid will reduce costs and increase load balancing, which lowers energy costs overall. 5G provides a boost to energy infrastructure, power grids will be able to bounce back much more quickly from outages. Utilising smart and connected technology, energy-consuming entities like street lighting could be programmed to shut down when no one is around, lowering energy use and reducing carbon emissions. Accenture recorded a number of predictions about how 5G will change how the world uses energy via the “smart grid”. 

In fact, advances will accelerate the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence applications to power systems with dynamic renewable electricity from solar, wind and stored energy subsystems. High speed, low latency 5G empowers innovation in cloud computing and edge computing, connecting power suppliers and users with new data insights and sophisticated control over energy systems. Since consumers, both private and industrial, are seeking affordability, reliability and a cleaner energy footprint, the new 5G tools provide highly efficient solutions to many environmental and sustainability issues.

Many describe the adoption of 5G as the first step in the fourth industrial revolution. Although its exact influence on our lives remains to be seen, there is no doubt that 5G will usher in a whole new way to live, work, and communicate.

Curious about how 5G communications are going to revolutionise global energy?

Join The Warren Centre on the morning of Wednesday, November 27 to learn more about how 5G will rewrite the rules about how power systems and electricity markets operate in the future.

Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/5g-will-accelerate-renewable-energy-tickets-74643503729

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