Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green Mobile Base Stations in Rural Sites

The number of worldwide mobile phone base stations has grown from the hundreds of thousands to the many millions, creating greenhouse gases and pollution from the power required to run them, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

Mobile base stations on an electric grid aren't the real problem, but as cellular spreads to billions of people in emerging countries, off-grid base stations, which are usually powered by diesel generators running 24/7, seem to proliferate.

"While diesel pollution is an environmental issue, what bothers mobile operators the most is the real cost of powering and securing the generators," says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst.

Diesel fuel has to be trucked to remote rural sites, and theft of diesel fuel and equipment can cost operators millions of dollars. The solution is for operators to at least partially power remote base stations with wind turbines, solar panels, or both. This is truly a case where it pays to be Green.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- By 2014, over 230,000 cellular base stations in developing countries will be solar-powered or wind-powered.

- The number of off-grid base stations is growing at 30 percent per year.

- Off-grid base stations are primarily located in Africa, South Asia (including India), South America, Latin America, and the Caribbean.