Ericsson Plans 100 Solar-Powered Cellular Base Stations in Africa

  • Chicago (IL) - In remote locations it's often very expensive to build generators or run power lines from remote power sources for whatever the need, even hospitabls. But in Africa, the desire by cell phone companies to "reach out and touch someone", even in extremely remote areas, is being overcome today through the use of one of that continent's most abundant resources: sunlight. Ericsson will begin by adding 100 base stations used for cellular phones, each of which will be at least partially powered by solar energy.

    "Orange Guinea Conakry, a local carrier, will build the base stations according to Ericsson's energy-efficient BTS 2111 model, which is designed to operate in remote areas. The base station contains no active moving parts (such as cooling fans), reducing energy consumption up to 50%, according to Ericcson. The site is fully powered by solar energy, supported by batteries for nighttime operation.

    Orange's new base stations will feature another twist: Each will replace one diesel generator with a bank of hybrid diesel-batteries designed by Ericcson to handle a large amount of charging and discharging. If calibrated to meet the batteries' optimal charging and discharging levels, this power solution can cut energy-related costs by another 50%, Ericsson says.

    "Reaching the next billion subscribers means expanding to rural off-grid areas," according to Ericsson. "[There are] attractive business cases for using renewable solutions all around the world." [Sustainable Life Media]

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