The developing 5G Energy Industry is right on the cusp of becoming a key driving force behind next-generation energy policy and strategy. In today’s highly digital environment, 5G is garnering a remarkable amount of hype, offering enterprises the high data rates (1-20 Gbit/s), ultra-low latency (1 ms), high security, reliability, and scalability necessary to leverage many of the innovative technologies available. Popular among a variety of industries, the global 5G services market was valued at USD 60.61 billion at the end of 2022, and is expected to reach USD 84.31 billion before 2023 closes, while also predicted to continue growing at a CAGR of 59.4 percent from now until 2030.
While 5G’s capabilities can help benefit a myriad of sectors, 5G is poised to make a massive impact is the utilities sector, more specifically electricity. It is estimated that 5G-enabled global digitalization revenues for ten major industries will be USD 1.3 trillion in 2026, with energy and utilities (water, electricity, gas, etc.) accounting for the highest share of 19 percent, or about USD 250 billion.
According to a report by Deloitte, titled 5G Empowers: The Future of Electricity, the reason for the notable growth of 5G-enabled utilities is thanks to 5G’s ability to help usher in a new, smarter electrical grid. 5G communication features are highly compatible with the requirements of electric power communication, meaning 5G can fully empower the application scenarios of smart grid, which will have far- reaching social impact on and great economic value to the electricity industry.
“The 5G-based smart grid will greatly facilitate the penetration of distributed new energy, distributed energy storage, electric vehicles, high-power electric smart machines, and other new appliances into homes, commercial buildings, factories, and designed zones, while providing connectivity for personalized, diverse and market-oriented energy supply services,” the report states. “5G offers an ubiquitous, flexible, cost-efficient, quality new technology option for power terminal access networks, and serves as a powerful foundation for building a more secure, reliable, green, and efficient smart grid, and will significantly reduce the average power outage time for customers and effectively improve power supply reliability and management efficiency.”
The use of 5G in the electric industry is far from hypothetical, as there are already a variety of application scenarios where 5G can have a positive impact on the electrical grid. For example, when it comes to grid control services, these require low latency, highly reliable and secure communications, which are fit for uRRLC application scenarios for the 5G technology system.
With 5G enabled grid control services, operators can take advantage of precise load control technology, which technology refers to the precise control of massive distributed power users’ interruptible load according to DC power loss in the context of DC blocking.
5G can enable good interaction between the grid and power sources/loads as well as instantaneous balance of power supply and demand, supports optimal energy distribution on a large scale, avoids mass power outages, and minimizes grid losses and the impact on business and residential electricity consumption.
A 5G-enabled smart grid can also begin to take on new services, being able to leverage IoT and edge technology for new capabilities. According to the report, the most prominent new service 5G can enable is multi-site integrations.
“Multi-station integration services make full use of transformer stations, new energy stations, energy storage stations, electric vehicle charging stations, power supply business halls, pumped storage power stations and other sites to build data center stations of different levels and application scenarios. The data center station provides local storage and edge computing for data from transformer stations,” the report finds. “As an extension of cloud computing, network edge computing migrates the cloud computing platform and its capabilities to the edge networks, such as transformer stations and new energy stations, to better support high bandwidth, low latency and localized services and provide resource sharing services to the community.”
However, while the report praises the potential application scenarios and benefits of the 5G Energy Industry, it also brings up possible challenges the industry faces with 5G adoption. Among the issues, the most prominent is security risk. From terminal, to network, to application, all the way to data security, it remains to be verified how 5G technology can meet the security needs of power services under the Energy Internet.
“Compared with 4G networks, 5G networks can tailor security protection mechanisms for slices based on service requirements, provide slices with hierarchical security services required by users and security isolation between slices, as well as enable security deployment and management of users’ virtual networks due to enhanced security in the network design,” the report states. “However, the power system has special requirements for the reliability and security of the communication network, and new requirements for the existing power security defense architecture and network management have emerged with network features, such as 5G network slicing, core network penetration, ultra-low latency service bearing and massive connections.”
Overall, as more enterprises and consumers around the world begin to adopt more technologies and digital applications within the 5G Energy Industry, the need for a 5G-enabled smart grid will increase. While the transformation to a smart grid does post obstacles, the potential benefits of a smart grid would revolutionize the electrical industry. However, the report states that if the creation of the smart grid is to be successful, it must be through the collaboration of organizations.
“The integration of 5G with the electricity industry cannot be accomplished by one or two enterprises,” the report states. “Companies have their own resource and capability advantages and shall cooperate to explore viable business models on the core value path.”