Physical sciences, Earth sciences

Green energy for remote telecom

Fuel cells may represent a real alternative to standard power sources such as batteries and diesel generators for off-grid telecom applications. An EU-funded project aims to prove their advantages to potential customers in different industrial sectors.

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies may represent a key enabling technology for radio base stations (RBSs) powered by renewable energies to see real market traction. The EU-funded project 'Demonstration project for power supply to telecom stations through FC technology' (FCPOWEREDRBS) is clearly demonstrating this potential. With 15 RBS installations live in Italy and 2 in Europe research centres, FCPOWEREDRBS is conducting field trials to allow a complete technology assessment for this promising, yet early market.

These units should demonstrate such performance in terms of start-up time, reliability, durability and number of cycles that should qualify them for quick market entry throughout the world.

Diesel generators are being displaced by new systems combining renewable energy and proton exchange membrane fuel cells fuelled with pure hydrogen. With such alternative fuelling solutions, FCPOWEREDRBS is not only enhancing off-grid RBS performance but also decreasing cost of ownership.

Several simulation activities helped define system specifications. Focus was placed on evaluating the impact of the battery and the photovoltaic pack sizes as well as of the variable weather on the system output. A laboratory for benchmarking of fuel cell-powered RBSs was set up, where also the first fuel cell system was tested. Furthermore, researchers verified the impact of sudden radiation variations on each sub-system.

FCPOWEREDRBS has developed a benchmark protocol for the fuel cell technology that should be added to the available benchmark protocols, providing a point of reference for final users.

The FCPOWEREDRBS project's proposed fuel cell solution reduces RBS carbon footprint and offers significant cost savings.

last modification: 2015-02-03 15:52:12

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