In a nutshell, SCAVENGE tackles sustainable design, protocols, architectures and algorithms for next generation 5G cellular networks. Our overall purpose is to allow mobile systems and especially their constituting base stations, femto, small-cells, mobile devices and sensors to take advantage of sources harvesting ambient energy (such as renewable sources).
Besides, SCAVENGE will set up a training network for early-stage researchers (ESRs), who will contribute to the design and implementation of sustainable 5G mobile networks in Europe, and lead the related key scientific, technological, and industrial initiatives.
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The fifth generation 5G of mobile technology will support 1,000 times more capacity per unit area than 4G, for more than 100 billion devices with typical user rates of 10 Gb/s, and significantly lower latency and higher reliability. The higher capacity demanding human-centric communications will be complemented by an enormous increase in the number of communicating machines, the so called Internet of Things (IoT). 5G will enable the co-existence of multiple types of access technologies, multiple types of devices and applications, and a much higher connectivity density through an ultra-dense network of heterogeneous base stations (BSs).
However, this enormous growth in the number of devices and access points will also lead to an equally large growth in the carbon footprint of the information and communication technologies (ICTs). According to a recent report by Digital Power Group, the world’s ICT ecosystem already consumes about 1500 TWh of electric energy annually, approaching 10% of the world electricity generation. Consequently, major industry players have already put environmental sustainability in their roadmap to 5G. Furthermore, connecting this dense network of BSs to the energy grid, and regularly recharging drained end device batteries is physically impractical, if not impossible.
Sustainable design of cellular networks is therefore a key growth sector for societal prosperity and will require significant numbers of highly skilled researchers.
A promising solution to restrain the negative impact of the ICT sector on the environment and reduce the energy costs, while providing the 5G network with the much-needed autonomy from the energy grid, is harvesting the available ambient energy. The SCAVENGE project proposes a sustainable paradigm for 5G mobile networks, where base stations and connected end devices are powered with local energy resources (LERs), e.g., solar and/or wind energy.
Sustainable design for ICT is indeed an essential and pressing cross-disciplinary research challenge, and professionals who can understand the fundamentals of energy generation and storage, mobile network design and management, as well as the requirements and principles of machine type communications are in high demand by the ICT sector. Furthermore there is no existing graduate program jointly covering the range of issues addressed by this project (energy generation, consumption and storage, networking protocol design, machine type communications and smart grids). SCAVENGE constitutes a valuable opportunity for training new young talents, who can face technical, analytical and strategic problems for the sustainable design of 5G cellular systems to respond to future societal challenges and needs.
The research methodology consists of focused individual research projects targeting specific topics, whose principal investigators are the ESRs. The research carried out within individual projects will be complemented with training schools and workshops organized within the training network. These complementary activities are designed to ensure that ESRs are well aware of a diverse set of problems related to sustainable mobile network design, both from the energy and ICT engineering perspectives, so as to provide them with the necessary expertise required for their employability in companies or academia upon completing their PhDs.