On June 11, 2021, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the National Energy Administration (NEA), the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC), and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), jointly issued the Implementation Plan for the Application of 5G in the Energy Sector (hereinafter referred to as the “Plan”). The aim is to promote 5G technology R&D and applications in the energy field.

The Plan first clarifies the development goals to be achieved within the next 3 to 5 years, namely:

  • Based on smart power plants, smart grids, smart coal mines, smart oil and gas, integrated energy, smart manufacturing and construction, expand a batch of typical 5G application scenarios, build a batch of 5G industry or virtual dedicated networks, and explore and form a batch of competitive business modes that can be replicated and easily promoted.
  • Develop a batch of special technology and supporting products that meet specific requirements of 5G applications in the energy sector, develop a batch of technical standards that are urgently needed, study and establish relevant technology innovation platforms, public service platforms and security protection systems, and significantly reinforce the fundamental supporting role of 5G applications industry in the energy sector.

On the basis of the 5G application scenarios to be expanded, the Plan requires to accelerate the R&D of 5G special technologies in the energy sector, such as key common technologies, special technologies and supporting products, and the same time establishing technology standard systems for 5G application in the energy field, promoting its test and verification, and building relevant technology innovation platforms. This exercise may include: (i) conducting research on the virtual interactive application platform based on 5G network to realise applications such as equipment testing, production training, video surveillance, expert supports, etc; (ii) focusing on the issues of weak 5G signal and coverage in coal mines, electric power stations and other industries; conducting R&D for special technologies involving underground unmanned driving, HD video transmission, industrial remote control, intelligent robot inspection, virtual interaction, etc.; and (iii) supporting products involving 5G base stations for coal mines, customized core networks, real-time communication terminals, and IoT gateways.

In terms of safeguarding measures, the Plan calls for a greater support, specifically through leveraging on the leading role of the central budget, and at the same time encouraging more investment from the society. The Plan also requires local energy authorities and relevant central enterprises to perform well in implementation, and to accelerate the promotion of 5G applications in various regions and enterprises according to local conditions. Finally, energy and ICT enterprises are explicitly encouraged to launch coordinated innovation and to develop related standards for cross-industry applications – based on 5G network construction, network security, and special technology, supporting products, integrated applications, etc.