Telecommunication networks worldwide are continually expanding, often into areas with limited or no access to a reliable power (electricity) infrastructure.  At the same time, telecom operators,  cell phone businesses and radio tower companies are struggling with unreliable and expensive energy to power their existing networks.

Choosing diesel as the main power source for base stations, or as the backup for an unreliable grid, is becoming increasingly hard to justify – both economically and environmentally. Renewable energy sources, both grid-connected and independent power generation systems, are the only sustainable long-term solution to ensure environmentally responsible, reliable and affordable energy for this critical and growing industry.

Telecommunications Expansion in Remote Locations: The Positive Multiplier Effect

Telecommunications Expansion in Remote Locations:  The Positive Multiplier Effect
Telecommunications Expansion in Remote Locations: The Positive Multiplier Effect

Many are surprised to learn there are now more mobile phone subscriptions in the world than there are people. Unfortunately, access to communication is not evenly distributed, as there are still about 3.5 billion people in the world without mobile phones. Mobile communications are not simply a convenience, but also important health, safety, and general well-being considerations. Hence, there is still significant growth opportunity for the global telecom industry, especially in developing countries.

In addition, the expansion of access to and use of mobile phones has a positive economic impact on a nation’s economy. Injections of new demand for products and services results in a positive multiplier effect for local economies. Simply put, when one person spends money, another is receiving that money and now has more income to spend on additional purchases. Eventually, the multiplier effect results in increased production and employment. Thus, expanding access to cellular service on island nations, like Fiji, should be a priority for economic growth.

Alas, there are significant challenges to construct the energy infrastructure and communications equipment necessary to power the telecommunications industry in developing countries. Ensuring new towers have continuous and sufficient access to non-grid electricity is an industry priority. Biofuels, such as diesel have been the easiest power generation strategies used to date, but they are not a good long-term solution.

The Global Environmental Impact of Telecommunications

The demand for instant communication has spread worldwide. It is not uncommon to see people in rural areas without running water or electricity using cell phones. Telecom towers now need to be constructed off-grid or in locations with a very unreliable grid to provide this critical service.

The global spike in demand requires the construction of towers both off-grid and grid-connected with back-up power generation. This has led to a significant increase in diesel consumption to power telecommunications towers. The resulting carbon emissions is making cell phone and radio use a major contributor to climate change, especially in developing countries.

Ironically, the areas where off-grid installations are currently powered by diesel fuel are also the most vulnerable to storm damage, due to severe climate change. Therefore, mitigating the devastating effects of climate change in areas where equipment is the most at-risk makes sense.

Converting to greener power generation technologies could save the industry billions of US dollars per year. In addition, renewable energy systems are often more reliable, where grid-connected infrastructure is non-existent. Solar and wind are ideal technologies to power the telecom industry expanding in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like Fiji.

Energy Priorities for Telecommunications Companies in Developing Countries

Most communications companies have similar objectives when it comes to the evaluation of new infrastructure improvement projects and how to increase operational efficiencies:

  • Leverage the economic value of a capital investment with favorable financial returns.
  • Achieve optimum system design and determine the optimum energy mix to maximize performance and efficiency.
  • Ensure on-going system operation via regular performance monitoring and reporting.
  • Increase system performance with fast, reliable, local servicing and maintenance.
  • Integrate new projects cost-effectively into the current organization-wide Corporate Energy Management Plan (CEMP).

Renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind, are excellent mechanisms to attain these five objectives. When a telecom company initiates a partnership with a renewable energy consultant and developer, a comprehensive feasibility study is first performed to determine the best options to meet the company’s objectives.

Renewable Energy Provider Project Consultant Services

The telecom industry is filled with subject matter experts in various areas of engineering and technical expertise. Unfortunately, the technologies employed all require access to power in the form of electricity. It is thus very important that telecom companies partner with a qualified renewable energy provider to evaluate and assess the best options for reliable and sustainable electricity to power their equipment.

Here are some key services you will want to ensure your renewable energy partner can provide as an EPC (Engineer, Procure and Construct) vendor:

  • Operations & Maintenance: Monitoring, reporting, and on-going system maintenance and servicing.
  • Energy Management Consulting: Integrating new systems into an organization-wide corporate energy management plan is key to success.
  • System Design: Engineering, technology evaluation, grid connection or battery storage or hybrid systems.
  • Component Procurement: Evaluation of system requirements and desired functionality.
  • Construction: Project management, installation and project commissioning.
  • Operations & Maintenance: Monitoring, reporting, and on-going system maintenance and servicing.

Bringing reliable and clean electricity where it is needed most, is Vision Energy Solutions’ (VES) primary objective. VES would be honored to power the telecom towers in Fiji and thereby contribute to the positive multiplier effect in the Fijian economy.

Please contact us to discuss your project.