The use of solar and wind systems to power remote mobile stations is growing rapidly and will account for 4.5% of all base stations by 2014, a research report says.
Renewables today power just 0.11% of mobile cell sites worldwide, but deployments will grow as wind-powered and solar equipment become more cost effective, cleantech research firm Pike Research predicts.
It forecasts that in four years 8% of mobile base stations in developing countries will be powered by renewable energy, noting that it is far cheaper to deploy in off-grid locations than fossil fuel sources that require regular long-distance truck deliveries and continued spending on fuel.
“As solar and wind equipment become more cost-effective in the next few years, renewable energy will be an increasingly attractive option for base station power, in combination with batteries and fuel cells,” said Pike Research managing director Clint Wheelock.
He said mobile network infrastructure equipment was rapidly becoming more energy-efficient, owing to a series of initiatives by equipment vendors and network operators.
Nokia Siemens Networks was the first major vendor to go to market with a solar-powered base station three years ago.
Today, all major communications suppliers offer renewable-powered base stations, enabling operators to expand their network footprint as well as cut their carbon emissions and operating cost.