February 24, 2008
Green Mobile Phone Base Stations: Taking Root, Beginning to Sprout
Thanks to advances in technology, it's becoming more practical to run far-flung mobile phone base stations with renewable energy. For example, it takes only one-fourth as many solar cells to power a base station as it did five years ago, according to a recent Ericsson study. Equipment producers also have put more effort into reducing the amount of power that a base station needs in the first place. The e-Commerce Times reports.
Mobile phones long ago began conquering parts of the world that are far away from the nearest electrical substation. However, the rising price of oil is exposing a problem with the networks that connect mobile handsets together.
In the far reaches of places like India or Africa, where companies such as Ericsson or Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture of Nokia and Siemens, are installing new cellular base stations at a furious pace, the facilities almost always get their power from diesel-powered generators.
However, fuel can account for as much as two-thirds of base-station operating costs. Add to that the expense of trucking diesel over poor roads to far-flung locations and protecting the valuable fuel against theft. "Getting oil or diesel to these stations is tremendously difficult," says Mats Granryd, president of Ericsson India.
As a result, green energy is suddenly becoming more than a feel-good project for the world's mobile service providers. As mobile networks expand far beyond the reach of power grids, they need to find alternatives to diesel. After experimenting for years with base stations powered by wind, solar energy or biofuel, equipment suppliers are preparing to roll out alternative energy technology in significant numbers."
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