NEC Tests New Base Station Energy Management Systems in India

NEC and Pixela Corporation will begin testing the use of two innovative new energy management systems to cut base station power needs.

A renewable photovoltaic (PV) energy and lithium-ion rechargeable battery system will be installed at 20 sites. At a further 52 sites high-solar reflectance photocatalytic paint will be used to coat the walls and roofs of base station shelters.

This is to find out to what extent the power used by the air conditioning units that protect radio equipment housed alongside the towers can be reduced by curbing temperature levels. A combination of both technologies will be used at some locations.

The two year program sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) will involve a total of 62 base stations across India including locations in suburban areas of Delhi and Mumbai.

Base stations will be ones operated by India’s two largest infrastructure operators, Viom Networks which is part owned by Tata and controls over 40,000 sites, and GTL Infrastucture which operates over 30,000 sites.

With the sharp rise in the number of mobile phone subscribers nationwide, Indian operators are rapidly expanding their base station networks. However, there are many regions with fragile power supplies that suffer from frequent outages and others that are off-grid. Telecom carriers currently use diesel generators either as a back-up to grid power or the primary power source in rural sites, but the expense of the fuel accounts for a large percentage of their operating costs.

The Indian Department of Telecommunications has set network operators a target of ensuring that 50% of telecom tower sites in rural areas and 20% of urban telecom tower sites should run on hybrid power, comprising of grid power combined with renewable energy by 2015. The decision comes as the Indian government, which heavily subsidizes diesel, looks to lessen the country’s reliance on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2020 75% of rural and 33% of urban stations will need to run on hybrid energy. The use of renewables with diesel generators as a back-up are also being explored for some off-grid locations. NEC predicts that if the two measures being trialled were introduced across all 400,000 mobile phone base stations in India, base station power usage would be cut by 50% and the industry would save one million litres in diesel fuel annually.

According to forecasts by Pike Research annual deployments of base stations powered by using renewable or alternative energy sources will rise to 84,000 by 2020, up from fewer than 13,000 sites worldwide in 2012. The report concludes that in all, more than 390,000 such base stations will be deployed from 2012 through 2020.

The trials are being supported by India’s Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance (MOF/DEA), Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Image by Victorgrigas. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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