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Renewable Energy to Power 4.5% of Mobile Base Stations by 2014

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As an ever increasing number of people around the world become connected by mobile communications networks, the challenges to providing electricity to these expanding networks are becoming greater as well. In particular, developing countries are seeing unprecedented growth in wireless subscribers, however many of the base stations in these areas are in remote locales that have limited or no access to grid power.

Renewable energy from solar panels and small wind turbines offers a viable alternative to diesel generators in these remote off-grid sites, and a new report from Pike Research forecasts that renewable energy will power 4.5% of the world's mobile base stations by 2014, up from just 0.11% in 2010. ­In developing countries, the percentage will be even higher - the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that 8% of base stations in those regions will utilize renewable power by 2014.

"Energy is one of the top expense items for mobile network operators," says managing director Clint Wheelock. "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." Wheelock adds that the economics of renewable energy are already favorable in remote off-grid areas where the fully-loaded cost of delivering diesel to generators is high.

Pike Research's analysis also shows that mobile network infrastructure equipment is rapidly becoming more energy-efficient, owing to a series of initiatives by equipment vendors and network operators. The firm believes that lower base station power requirements will make it even easier to integrate renewable energy into mobile networks. In the process, the global wireless industry will have a significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions associated with network operations.

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Tags: solar power  wind power  renewable energy  base station  solar  wireless  option