Siemens Networks, a joint venture of Nokia and Siemens, are installing new cellular base stations at a furious pace, the facilities almost always get their power from diesel-powered generators. However, fuel can account for as much as two-thirds of base-station operating costs. Add to that the expense of trucking diesel over poor roads to far-flung locations and protecting the valuable fuel against theft. “Getting oil or diesel to these stations is tremendously difficult,” says Mats Granryd, president of Ericsson India.
As a result, green energy is suddenly becoming more than a feel-good project for the world’s mobile service providers. As mobile networks expand far beyond the reach of power grids, they need to find alternatives to diesel. After experimenting for years with base stations powered by wind, solar energy or biofuel, equipment suppliers are preparing to roll out alternative energy technology in significant numbers.