Solar power offers green alternative for rural mobile network deployments
Solar-powered base stations can help mobile operators in emerging markets extend their footprint into rural areas, which typically have unreliable electricity supplies. Currently the main alternative to the electrical grid are diesel generators, but these are expensive to run, environmentally damaging and rely on a regular supply of diesel fuel.
A study from analysts ABI Research suggests that the number of autonomous solar-powered cell sites will grow from modest levels today to over 40,000 by 2013. And a further 295,000 base stations could supplement their on-grid power supplies with solar power alone.
A number of vendors have solutions for renewable energy-powered base stations as reportedin the Orange Business Live! blog. These include Indian company VNL that has designed a whole system-in-a-box to specifically meet the needs of operators in emerging markets.
Orange is a keen proponent of renewable energy for base stations and recently announced the installation of its 200th solar-powered mobile relay station in the Africa-Middle East-Asia (AMEA) region in Ndelle, Senegal. The base stations are designed to be easy to manage and cheap to run. The solar panels charge up rechargeable cells that have a capacity of four days so that the base station is able to run around the clock.