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Digicel Pacific chooses Eltek Valere hybrid solar power for wireless network

Digicel Pacific is optimising its remote network site power by combining diesel and solar power equipment from Eltek Valere. The generator sets will be supplied with a solar-powered Wholesale Applications Community Papua New Guinea...

Eltek Valere has announced that leading South Pacific wireless operator Digicel Pacific has installed a hybrid solar-diesel DC power system based on the company’s Flatpack2 HE Solar Charger to build out its wireless network serving Papua New Guinea (PNG).

 Digicel Pacific implemented a 35-tower high capacity microwave backbone and base-station network to provide more bandwidth for its mobile phone customers on the island. And yet, the rugged terrain of PNG, one of the least explored areas in the world, meant that many of those sites were in areas not served by grid power.

 Initially, Digicel Pacific deployed battery-powered network equipment with diesel generators to charge the batteries. These generators ran continuously but only at an efficiency of only 20% of load and were fed by monthly helicopter fuel runs, translating to a cost of US$6 per kWh. With the hybrid-solar solution, Digicel installed photovoltaic cells in addition to the generators and was able to reduce generator hours to four per day and boost efficiency to 80%-90% of load which reduced costs to about US$1 per kWh.

An integral part of the solution was an Eltek Valere DC power system that converted both solar and generator power into 48V DC for the load. The Eltek Valere solution is composed of the Flatpack2 HE Solar Charger and the Flatpack2 rectifier. The Smartpack Controller manages the entire system, monitoring battery power levels and input voltage levels from the solar system and switching between the solar system and the diesel gen-set. The Smartpack features also include advance battery monitoring routines, as well as gen-set optimisation programs and considerable data logging options.

“Digicel Pacific faced a unique challenge in building a network across a country with topography as difficult as PNG,” said Kenneth Bodahl, Managing Director of Asia-Pacific for Eltek Valere. “Rather than fight the environment, we were able to provide them with a flexible power solution that enabled them to both expand their network while cutting costs dramatically.”

The Flatpack2 HE Solar Charger connects to four-six solar panels and converts the solar power into controlled 48V DC for supply to telecom equipment. The solar charger is based on Eltek Valere’s industry-leading High Efficiency (HE) technology, which delivers more than 96% AC-DC power conversion efficiency.

* Launched in the South Pacific in November 2006, Digicel has become “the fastest-growing mobile operator in the region,” with operations in Samoa, Nauru, Tonga, Vanuatu, PNGuinea and Fiji. Digicel is the largest telco in the Caribbean and Pacific and operates in 31 markets worldwide, recently launching new operations in three countries in Central America. 

** Headquartered in Drammen, Norway, Eltek Valere offers end-to-end power solutions for mobile and fixed-line network infrastructure and industrial applications, and includes rectifiers, inverters, enclosures and alternative energy solutions. The company has more than 2,000 employees, offices in 25 countries and sales in more than 100 countries.  

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