Smart Powered Telco System

Sustainable Power Generation for Base Stations (BS)

A massive increase in the amount of data traffic over mobile wireless communication has been observed in recent years, while further rapid growth is expected in the years ahead. With the transition from 4G to 5G technology, Mobile Network Operators, are faced with multiple challenges in supplying reliable and clean energy to an increasing number as well as new type of end-users.

Thus, a sustainable power system, must be able to provide more than just clean energy. It must be smart too. A smart energy system has flexibility to support different energy strategies and ability to supplement or absorb irregularities of the system. The ability to stabilize power on demand has probably never been more critical in times where it has become increasingly difficult to predict the needs and behavior of the mobile network. Put differently, when looking for power options, one must consider a solution for handling the 4G network, 5G transition and beyond.

The SerEnergy Fuel Cell System meets the base-stations’ current and long-term needs for clean on-demand power generation – the SerEnergy System is future proof. The system is a viable and practical approach to power base-stations in the ultra-dense 5G network infrastructure to:

  • Graduate scaling of power from 5kW to 15kW as 4G transits to 5G as network matures.
  • Supplement and back-up the power gap
  • Avoid CO2 emissions from grid and fossil driven generators.
  • Cost effectively increase run-time essentially for “remote” coverage.
  • Be applied in various types of hybrid electric energy systems (wind, solar, hydro, gird)
  • Enable BS to become self-sustainable – independent of grid, weather, and regulations.
  • Manage load variations in heterogenous networks.
  • Absorb irregularities of the power eco-system.

 

Increasing Power Demands from 5G Base Stations

In their recent article “Renewable energy powered sustainable 5G network infrastructure: Opportunities, challenges and perspectives”, Adil Israr, Qiang Yang, Wei Li and Albert Y. Zomaya elaborate on how to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) to end-users with five times the traffic in the dual operations of the 4G and 5G network and associated infrastructure. The mobile access network consumes a majority portion of the energy of the whole network, and the most energy-intensive component in the access system is the base station. The advent of the ultra-dense 5G network and a vast number of connected devices will bring about the obvious issues of significantly increased system energy consumption, operational expenses, and carbon dioxide emissions. The industry consensus is that 5G will double to triple energy consumption for mobile operators, once networks scale.

The enormous energy consumption is considered as one of the major deployment hurdles of the 5G system. The increased power demands of a 5G, among others, means insufficient battery capacity leading to possible power gaps and instability of the power system. Yet, traditional lead-acid batteries have low energy density, and their capacities are difficult to expand. The SerEnergy Fuel System is a very cost-effective extension of runtime. It is a matter of adding more fuel tanks, larger fuel tanks. This results in significantly cheaper energy (kWh) verses investing in more battery banks. In addition, it provides the system with a flexible start up option complemented with supplementary capacity to absorb the imbalance of power and backup to meet the increased probability of power outage.

The complexity increases with the fact that many sites need to handle a dual transition with parallel use of 4G and 5G.  As high energy battery range extender, the SerEnergy Fuel Cell System adapts to work with different battery types and configurable charge strategies. The system allows that power generation easily can be increased from 5 kW to 10 kW or 15 kW in accordance with deployment and scaling needs.

 

Critical Emissions and Hybrid Solutions

Today, electricity generation is still mainly based on fossil fuel, e.g., about 65% electricity production of China and 80% of India and Pakistan is based on fossil fuel, which imposes an urgent challenge to the climate and environment. The large-scale deployment of 5G will lead to rapidly increasing demands for energy provision and thus contributes to the energy crisis that is driving the global climate change. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) mainly comes from data centers and mobile phones[1]. Today, the energy consumption of the Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) generates around 3.6 % of the total GHGE, and, at the same pace, might generate 14% emission by 2040, which is about 4.7% of global electricity production.

Further improvements of energy efficiencies are hard to achieve. Therefore, the integration of clean and renewable energies, becomes increasingly relevant in addressing the urgent energy consumption challenge and make the 5G network self-sustainable. As a result, mobile network operators must develop short and long-term strategies to reduce energy bills by adopting energy-saving approaches. The SerEnergy Fuel Cell System generates clean power as a standalone hybrid solution connected to the grid or as part of a hybrid solution with solar panels and/or wind turbines. As a result, on one hand, the fuel cell system safeguards that base stations supported by renewable energy sources, stays green and self-sustainable. On the other hand, it reduces CO2 emission and dependency on grid.

 

Self-Sustainable Remote Base Stations 

Many operators also face the obligations of providing rural coverage in off-grid or instable grid areas, where weather conditions are harsh and without accessibility temporally or over longer periods. Some demands are further increased by adding new end-users within critical infrastructure and healthcare, pushing demands for reliable power supply and readiness independent power generation over longer time periods. Moreover, environmental regulations, often restrict the use of fossil fuel and prohibit noise. Some would even demand close to zero emission energy supply.

Besides not depending on the usage of conventional grid energy, the fuel cell system minimizes carbon emissions. Therefore, a fuel cell system is among the best viable solutions for power supply to the wireless mobile systems in places without power grid infrastructure, e.g., very remote areas, offshore islands. Independent of wind and sun, at such instance, powering a mobile network with SerEnergy Fuel Cell System in hybrids solely with renewable energy sources or including grid too, is cost-effective, and a long-term environmental solution for the mobile networks industry. The fuel cell system is easy to install and enable for operations with its internal 200 l. fuel tank. Identical to changing needs in power consumption, different run-time demands can be met by adding one or more 1000 l. external fuel tanks.[2] A robust design, remote monitoring, and self-maintenance safeguards the system’s stability and fuel quality. In short, the cabinet is the best versatile system design in its class – providing a long-term solution for flexible power and run-time needs.

 

Maximizing Power Efficiency Despite Load Variations

The SerEnergy Fuel Cell System can provide back-up and supplementary power-on-demand, for temporary power needs. This is needed during period of the maximum load conditions, in which the numbers of BSs used in a certain area are demanded to be capable of providing mobile users with the required QoS. The unpredictable nature of managing heterogenous networks consisting of base stations and different types of small cells, also impact the network’s load conditions become more unpredictable, and peak periods can either result in excessive energy consumption, or compromise QoS and even lead to power outage. To this end, flexible power generation will be more reliable and energy efficient, with a fuel cell system safeguarding and sustaining the balance of the power system.

 

Notes:

[1] The GHGE emissions of smartphones increased from 4% in 2010 to 11% in 2020 and it will keep on rising as the GHGE emissions of the data center which was 33% in 2010 to 45% in 2020.

[2] With the 200-liter internal tank, the 10kW system can generate continuous power for more than 20 hours. When applying the external fuel tank option, run-time can be extended accordingly. E.g. 1000 l. gives more than 4 days of continuous power supply.