Solar offers answer for Africa's telecoms electricity shortages
Africa has seen a mobile telecoms boom with subscribers numbers ballooning as users access communications services that were denied them by the limited fixed infrastructure. Users in cities have been the main beneficiaries up to now, but African operators hope that base stations powered by renewable energy will help them overcome the lack of electricity supply in the countryside.
Electricity supply in Africa is patchy at the best of times and in many rural areas there is no access to the power grid. Operators deploying a rural mobile network need to rely on diesel generators to power the base stations. Not only is this an inefficient and dirty way of generating electricity, it also gives operators the headache of managing and supplying diesel fuel across the country. To compound their difficulties, the price of diesel fuel is going through the roof, making it expensive for them to service low-return customers.
Renewable energy may just provide them with the answer. Indian company VNL has just launched a low-cost solar-powered base station that would be ideal for African operators. The base station is powered by 2-8 m2 solar panel and has a backup battery that is also charged by the sun. All the equipment, including the mobile switching center (MSC) and base station controller (BSC) packs into two trucks and doesn't need to be installed by a specialist engineer.
VNL aren't the only company with renewables-powered mobile infrastructure, Swedish company Flexenclosure provides a solar and wind powered base station, and even mainstream equipment suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia are in on the act. Getting communications services to the countryside is more than just sustaining the growth rates of African mobile operators, it vital to bridge the digital divide.
February 28, 2010Solar Powered electricity has been used for commercial purposes since the 1970?s, and it is in use now more than ever before. As new government regulations on clean coal come to pass, the cost of electricity is expected to skyrocket. Many business owners are turning to solar powered electricity as a way to reduce costs. Most of the electricity we use in the United States comes from coal burning power plants. The coal has energy stored in it that came from the sun millions of years ago. The coal needs to be burned to release this energy. It is cleaner and much more efficient to use the energy that is coming from the sun right now. By eliminating the need to burn coal, your company is will be a leader in the reduction of pollution. Solar powered panels can either be mounted on the roof or your structure, or they can be installed as ground units. During the daylight hours, these panels will collect and store energy from the sun. After peak sunlight hours the stored energy will run the electricity for you business. If you need more electricity than what the panels can produce, it will come from the utility company. Solar powered electricity is a way to reduce your use of coal burning electrical power. Solar power is quiet, and it produces no waste by product. By going with solar powered electricity, you are also making a wise investment for your company. A business or factory with solar powered panels installed will depreciate much slower than similar businesses that have no solar power. Public relations is also very important to business owners, and by owning a solar powered business, you are telling your clients and the public that you don?t just pay lip service to the devotion of a greener planet, you are part of the solution. Your potential customers will see you as an innovator, and people like doing business with innovators.
August 19, 2008It will be interesting to see this technology applied in Western markets for micro generation for both domestic and business needs.
Maybe tax relief, grants or other incentives would get micro generation included in all new builds.
For data centre consolidation projects, security of power supply is a primary consideration (look at Google and Microsoft's choice of Hydroelectric powered sites) but alternative power supply could reduce or at least mitigate the risks from generator backup.