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February 11, 2013

Green Base Stations Are Displacing Diesel



Renewable energy systems are starting to replace diesel generators as a way of providing reliable power to remote, off-grid mobile telecommunications base stations. Although fewer than 13,000 alternative energy platforms were deployed at base stations worldwide in 2012, more than 84,000 will be in use by 2020, according to the findings of a report just released by Boulder, Colorado-based Pike Research (News - Alert).

In all, more than 390,000 telecommunications base stations will be deployed from 2012 through 2020, claims the study, “Off-Grid Power for Mobile Base Stations.”

To date, the most common energy source for these isolated, off-grid stations by far has been diesel generators—but this solution that presents a number of economic, logistical, and environmental challenges. Thus, demand for reliable, non-diesel-based energy sources for such facilities is growing.

Though this market is small compared to grid-tied base stations, so-called “green base stations,” which use renewable, battery and fuel cell technologies, are starting to see real market traction.

The two key drivers toward the green base station model are government policy initiatives and efforts to decrease both energy costs and overall operating costs. Combined, these drivers are reaching a tipping point that could make green base stations could the industry norm within 10 years, said the Pike analysts.

Because most off-grid base stations are in remote parts of the developing world, the market for off-grid base station power is also one area where the traditional early adopter nations—the United States, Japan, and Germany—are lagging behind emerging nations such as China, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, and Indonesia.

 “The combination of increased energy costs and expanding policy directives from governments is creating pressure on the system,” commented Pike Research Director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “And the system is reaching a tipping point, where the new technology offerings in remote base stations could become the industry norm within 10 years. Adding these factors to the high anticipated growth rates in off-grid base station deployments creates the potential for a high-uptake industry to evolve in a very short period of time, if companies can produce product at a volume that works in the local environment.”

The report includes a detailed analysis of the technology readiness of such alternative energy systems, as well as an overview of the most likely technology combinations, including renewable generation with batteries and fuel cells, renewable generation with backup batteries, and standalone fuel cells.

Market forecasts are provided for revenue, number of deployments, and capacity in megawatts, under base and optimistic scenarios, through 2020.




Edited by Braden Becker

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