Some of the most memorable stories that emerged from the pandemic are not those of death and disease, but of hope and resilience. In 2020, a video of a boy finally reuniting with his healthcare worker mother went viral, touching hearts worldwide.

It is this resilience that saw telecommunications firm Huawei weathering supply chain shortages, regulatory restrictions, and reduced revenues in the past year. “No matter what comes our way, we will keep investing,” said Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Guo Ping at their 2021 Annual Report Press Conference.

In fact, the telco has invested CNY142.7 billion (US$22.4 billion) on R&D expenditure in 2021 alone, representing 22.4 per cent of its total revenue. This led to a 30 per cent growth in new business segments like digital power, and the cloud.  Huawei leaders shared more about how this growth bring about a greener future.

Digitalising solar for efficient renewable energy

“Power supply is the basis of everything,” said Yao Quan, Vice President, Site Power Facility, Huawei, at the launch event of Huawei’s digital power solution. Electricity powers tech, but can the reverse also be true?

Huawei is exploring ways to digitalise power and make it more efficient.

Aerial view of solar photovoltaic panels system on apartment building roof (Photo courtesy of Huawei)

In Talatan, China, Huawei supports a massive solar power station with its smart technologies. This tech helped improve efficiency by more than 50 per cent.

The power station transformed the land. It led to reduced wind speeds, improved humidity and soil moisture, which replaced the once windswept sand with lush grasslands. As a result, shepherds could return to the area with their herds of grazing sheep to enjoy the now quality pasture, highlighted the Annual Report.

In Singapore, for example, Huawei’s smart inverters are used to build one of the world’s largest offshore floating solar farms, shared Jun Zhang, Vice President, Huawei Asia Pacific, at the Huawei APAC Media Roundtable on 28 March.

These technologies allow engineers to monitor the farm remotely and reduces general wear and tear on the solar panels. Their compact size also meant that the farm could install the equipment near the panels, eliminating the need for additional equipment and cutting costs.

Towards a sustainable 5G future

Governments around the world are turning to 5G for its faster speeds and reduced lag. Singapore is using it to track construction progress, Malaysia to manage traffic, and China to preserve cultural relics.

Huawei too is helping governments use 5G for good. It helped install 5G networks in countries across the world including Switzerland, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, generating CNY281.5 billion (US$44.24 million) in revenue.

The organisation has signed over 3,000 commercial contracts for industrial 5G applications across industries like mining, chemical, and healthcare.

For instance, Huawei Thailand launched the Siriraj World Class 5G Smart Hospital last year – the largest 5G smart hospital in Asia, shared Zhang. The hospital will feature extensive uses of 5G like self-driving vehicles which deliver medical supplies, wrote Digital News Asia.

An innovation lab was also launched alongside the hospital, which will incubate over 30 5G uses such as smart hospital beds, according to the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital.

“This is a model for upgrading Thailand’s public health industry in the future,” said Abel Deng, the CEO of Huawei Technologies (Thailand), of the project.

Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the launch of the Siriraj World Class 5G Smart Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Huawei)

5G provides infinite possibilities for the future, but it can place an immense burden on the environment. 5G consumes more energy, produce more carbon emissions, and costs more than its predecessors.

To tackle these problems, Huawei found a way to make 5G infrastructure more compact.

“We prioritise sustainable development and innovation in order to better serve our customers,” said Meng Wan Zhou, the Deputy Chairwoman and Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, at the Annual Report Press Conference.

5G requires a stable power supply, data centres and network support to operate. But traditional infrastructure takes up immense amounts of space, shared Yao.

Huawei confined the equipment 5G requires to just a cabinet. The reduces its physical footprint and can improve energy efficiency from 60 to 97 per cent, wrote its 2021 Annual Report.

Huawei is also using AI like smart cooling to modernise existing 5G equipment. The AI automatically senses when the equipment is working harder, and ramps up cooling efforts accordingly.

This can improve energy efficiency by up to 80 per cent, while negating the need for new equipment rooms, changing cables, or air conditioning, the Report highlighted.

Empowering innovation through the cloud

Another focus of Huawei in the past year was the growth of Huawei Cloud, the telco’s very own cloud service.

“In Asia Pacific, Huawei Cloud is one of the fastest growing public cloud providers,” highlighted Guo. In fact, the telco’s cloud services grew a whopping 202.8 per cent between 2019 to 2020, and is ranked among the top five globally, according to research firm Gartner.

Huawei Cloud was available across 27 geographical regions and 170 countries by September 2021, shared Zhang Pingan, Huawei Cloud CEO. The service has helped numerous organisations in Asia Pacific make breakthroughs in tech.

For example, a Singaporean online car marketplace UCARS used Huawei Cloud’s AI development platform to build the first AI vehicle valuation tool in Southeast Asia. This tool helps UCARS determine the value of a vehicle being sold in mere seconds.

As a result, over 400,000 rural households in the Hunan province were able to bring in CNY8 billion (US$1.26 million) from selling their agricultural products.

Amidst a challenging year, Huawei continues to power through with year-on-year growth, with profits hitting record highs of CNY 113,718 million (US$17.87 million). This allowed them to maintain a sound financial position and remain laser focused on innovation. Come 2022, the telco intends to embrace digitalisation and carbon neutrality to make a green impact on the world.

Main image: Guo Ping, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, speaking at the press conference. (Photo courtesy of Huawei)