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Swedes develop eco-friendly mobile mast

Swedes develop eco-friendly mobile mast

The E-site technology revolves around intelligent software which learns the vagaries of its local environment.

Swedish startup Flexenclosure thinks it has the solution for energy-efficient mobile phone coverage in developing nations – and unlike some ideas it's actually sounding pretty darn straightforward.

The company estimates that there are 40,000 base stations in Africa, and most of those rely on a diesel engine for power. Each base station takes anything up to 20,000 litres of the increasingly expensive hydrocarbon soup each year to ensure that people will be able to use their mobile phones. That's around 800,000,000 litres of diesel every single year, which isn't good for the environment or the profit margins of the mobile providers.

Flexenclosure's E-site isn't much more than the implementation of existing technologies in the interests of lowering reliance on burning hydrocarbons in areas where access to a national power grid isn't a possibility. Each site comprises a traditional base station – complete with diesel generator – with solar panelling for a roof and a wind turbine sited at the top of the antenna mast.

The clever part is in the software, rather than the hardware. The E-site runs an 'intelligent' operating system capable of adapting to local conditions. Stefan Jern, CEO of Flexenclosure, says by example that if the unit is running low on juice but knows that the sun will be coming up soon “it won't use the diesel generator.” The idea is to get the base station running on the best available energy source at any given time.

The technology has the potential to lower diesel usage by up to eighty percent – that's a saving of 640,000,000 litres of diesel each year for African telcos; and that's the byproducts of burning 640 million litres of diesel that won't be entering our atmosphere.

The company is hoping to start selling their eco-friendly (well, eco-friendlier) base stations to suitable countries – that'll be ones with a decent amount of sunshine – by the end of this year. With oil prices likely to keep rising, it's a technology that can't come too soon.

Do you applaud the company's relatively simple design, or will we need something a bit more esoteric if we're going to reduce our reliance on oil? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

12 Comments

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r4tch3t 7th April 2008, 08:48 Quote
That's a good idea, especially the software that knows when the suns going to come up.
hawky84 7th April 2008, 09:00 Quote
solutions like this are great because they are simple to explain to businesses that are generally not willing to give up there money

spend x now and save y every year

y will pay off x in z amount of time reducing your costs greatly

if simple cost effective solutions like this are adopted by more and more companies oil prices will start to reduce greatly and hopefully mean it wont cost me £60 to fill up my damn tank...

oh yeah and the air will be better to breath as well ;)
profqwerty 7th April 2008, 10:54 Quote
But surely something so simple as 'use solar panels instead of diesel in a country with lots of sun' would/should have been thought of a while back?
ch424 7th April 2008, 11:04 Quote
Yeah, they've had solar powered cell towers in africa for ages. Apparently the hard part is stopping people stealing the solar panels.
DXR_13KE 7th April 2008, 14:00 Quote
this plus bio-diesel = nice
completemadness 7th April 2008, 16:01 Quote
why would it need to use the diesel engine 20% of the time?

The locations their gonna put it in should be pretty sunny, and maybe a bit windy, i don't see why it cant be solar/wind like 95% of the time or more
ch424 7th April 2008, 16:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by completemadness
why would it need to use the diesel engine 20% of the time?

The locations their gonna put it in should be pretty sunny, and maybe a bit windy, i don't see why it cant be solar/wind like 95% of the time or more

You're saying it's windy at night for 97.5% of the time?
completemadness 8th April 2008, 00:15 Quote
no but it can charge batteries while it is windy/sunny, i wouldn't have thought you could generate enough power during the day to make it run overnight, Besides, if the generator is only run 20% of the time, not only does it need to stop and start a lot (some sort of batteries) but that's 20% of the time where there isn't light/wind

I'm just surprised that you cant store enough power in a somewhere like Africa to power it for most of the time, except for excessively long dark periods without wind
Cthippo 8th April 2008, 00:18 Quote
Every little bit helps!

I would think it will also vary by load conditions. At peak hours the system may not be able to keep up with the power demand. Still, a diesel engine running 20% of the time is better than one running 100% of the time!
ZERO <ibis> 8th April 2008, 01:11 Quote
The real hidden cost is the batteries they will half to be replaced every few years. And the more that they discharge before being allowed to recharge the faster they will run out. So while this system appears to save money there is no telling how much the hidden cost could be. To reduce battery costs it would be best that they are not discharged more than 50% ever. But that would increase initial costs. However the longer between each battery replacement the better because the technology is likely to improve over time.
pdf27 8th April 2008, 13:10 Quote
This'll probably be economically viable in remote areas even before you make any allowances for climate change issues - transporting diesel to really out of the way places gets crazily expensive (like, £5/litre). At those prices something like this will pay for itself pretty rapidly.
bilbothebaggins 2nd June 2008, 20:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch424
Yeah, they've had solar powered cell towers in africa for ages. Apparently the hard part is stopping people stealing the solar panels.

The same people that steal the Diesel?
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