Thursday, 02 December 2021

Vodafone combining solar and wind for self-powered mobile masts

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 25 November 21

The implementation of this technology could drastically reduce the operator’s energy consumption, helping to contribute to the company’s net-zero carbon emissions target of 2027

Energy consumption has long been something of a bugbear for operators. As data traffic increases steadily year on year, so too does energy consumption, despite new technologies helping make networks themselves more efficient. The cost of network energy consumption represents a huge, growing financial burden for the operators, not to mention the increased carbon emissions associated with this energy production…

Energy consumption has long been something of a bugbear for operators. As data traffic increases steadily year on year, so too does energy consumption, despite new technologies helping make networks themselves more efficient. The cost of network energy consumption represents a huge, growing financial burden for the operators, not to mention the increased carbon emissions associated with this energy production.
 
With sustainability and climate change becoming increasingly prominent concerns for telcos, as well as profit margins as slim as ever, this worsening situation needs to be addressed.  
 
Now, Vodafone are presenting a solution, announcing the creation of self-powered phone masts, harnessing solar and wind power at the site itself.
 
Working alongside their sustainability partner Crossflow Energy for the past two years, the new turbine technology will allow the mobile sites to be powered exclusively by locally generated renewable energy.
 
In fact, according to Vodafone, the solution, which also incorporates battery technologies, could potentially remove the need to connect these sites to the electricity grid, allowing them to function completely independently. This, in turn, would remove a major barrier for deploying sites in rural and remote areas, where access to power grids can be a significant challenge. 
 
“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges. Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK.
 
The Eco-Towers are also noted as being quiet and bird-friendly, allowing them to be deployed in sensitive areas, such as those designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
 
A trial of the technology will take place before the end of the year, with a wider deployment across the UK promised if the tests prove successful. 
 
Vodafone UK has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions for its own operations by 2027, a target that these Eco-Towers could be instrumental in achieving.
 
“There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net zero for its UK operations by 2027,” said Dona.
 
More generally, Vodafone Group aims to half its emissions in its supply chain by 2030, before reaching net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040.
 
 
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