Middle East Telecommunication Tower Operators Turn to Microgrids for Reliable Power

Urban Green Energy secures an order to power telecoms sites in the Middle East with distributed renewable energy microgrids.
Published: Wed 03 Sep 2014

Urban Green Energy, a provider of renewable energy solutions for global enterprise customers, has received a purchase order to deploy hybrid microgrid energy systems for remote telecommunications towers.

Microgrid enhances reliability and security of energy supply

The telecoms site operators will utilize UGE's expertise and equipment to enhance the reliability and security of their energy supply while significantly decreasing the costs of powering the sites.

The telecoms towers are powered by UGE's modular technology platform, designed to capture the specific renewable energy resources available at each site. Each site location incorporates an optimized combination of solar panels, energy storage, and wind turbines for fully integrated off-grid hybrid systems. The telecom towers will also utilize UGE's monitoring and control technology to ensure that the system is always up and running efficiently.

These microgrid systems have been purchased by a confidential government entity for use in the Middle East. The purchase order, valued at over US$400,000, is expected to be fulfilled throughout the remainder of 2014.

Back-up power needs drive telecoms to microgrids

Wireless communication systems are growing quickly across the globe and so are the socioeconomic benefits of mobile phone technology.

Analysys Mason's recent report, The Middle East and North Africa telecoms market: 2014 interim forecast update 2013–2018, shows that the mobile telecoms market in the region continues to display signs of growth. Driven by strong mobile handset data growth, telecoms service revenue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will grow at a CAGR of 2.9% during 2013–2018 (mobile at 3.3% and fixed at 2.8%), to reach USD96 billion in 2018.

The need for reliable and cost-effective backup power is critical. Electric grid loss throughout the year, whether from severe weather, natural disasters, or limited grid capacity, is an ongoing challenge for network operators.

Telecommunications networks require reliable backup power solutions that can operate for hours or even days when the utility grid falters as a result of severe weather conditions, natural disasters, or poor grid quality.

Typically diesel generators and lead acid batteries are used for providing backup. Batteries are relatively inexpensive for one to two hours of backup power. However, batteries are not suitable for longer duration backup power applications because they can be costly to maintain, unreliable after aging, temperature sensitive and hazardous to the environment after disposal. Diesel and propane generators are capable of longer duration backup power. However, generators can be unreliable, maintenance intensive, and emit high levels of pollution and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

"Telecommunication tower operators in emerging markets often face severe challenges with grid reliability, site accessibility, and rising fuel costs," says Henry Hatch, UGE's business development manager for the telecoms market. "Renewable energy paired with UGE's advanced site analysis and monitoring capabilities address these issues with a solution that lowers costs and facilitates uninterrupted communication."

It would appear that UGE has hit the nail on the head and is tapping into a very promising market where operators will be forced to become more efficient, focused and innovative.

Further reading

Booz&Co-Telecom in the Middle East - The Competitive Mandate After the Downturn [pdf]