Insight: Tower of Power
It is time for mobile operators to rethink power back-up for telecom towers.
It is time for mobile operators to rethink power back-up for telecom towers. From an insurance policy that is critical to have but only used for a fraction of time, to the best friend in reducing energy bills and fighting climate change.
We are on the verge of a new technological paradigm. If 4G gave us smart phones and all the information in the world at our fingertips, 5G will give us a truly connected world. Where not only humans are connected via their phones. But where everything is connected, from cars and refrigerators to industrial robots and 3D printers.
“In a world where everything is connected all the time, the connection must never go down. The increasingly connected world needs great power back-up. And lots of it” says Stefan Jansson, founder and CEO for the fast-growing Swedish energy storage solutions provider Polarium.
The implications of the 5G paradigm for mobile operators are profound. They need to guarantee close to 100 percent uptime, as tolerance for interruptions falls when more and more critical applications are connected. Meanwhile 5G requires a denser network infrastructure, with more base stations in a given area. On top of that, carbon emissions need to be reduced to reach sustainability goals and offset expected increases in carbon pricing.
Energy consumption already forms 20-40 percent of network operating expenditures and networks make up 80 percent of mobile operators’ greenhouse gas emissions. The 5G networks will devour at least twice the amount of energy as today’s networks.
Mobile operators must therefore rethink how they use power back-up. It is currently an underutilized asset, especially in the parts of the world where the grid is stable.
“Power back-up is seen as an insurance policy. Critical to have, but only used for a fraction of time during power outages. Instead, it should be seen as the operator’s best friend in reducing their energy bill and fighting climate change”, continues Stefan Jansson.
Lithium powered back-up solutions can be used to store renewable energy. The main challenge with renewable energy is that it might not be produced when it is needed the most. By storing energy when it is abundant and cheap, to then be used when it is scarce and expensive, the telecom industry can cut cost and eliminate fossil fuels from their networks.
In this way, tower sites become power sites that help solve some of mobile operators’ most pressing issues. Enabling connectedness. Reducing energy cost in a time when the energy consumption is expected to double. And making the world more sustainable.
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