Enabling network connectivity through intelligent and green energy site solutions
What if we told you that you could expand connectivity in rural areas in a way that has lower OPEX and is environmentally sustainable?
The digital gap between urban and rural areas increases the demand for enhanced rural cellular coverage, digital connectivity and broadband. Innovations are required to close this gap and drive development through a reliable and cost-efficient energy supply for rural mobile internet infrastructure. With easy, reliable access to 5G technology, underserved rural communities will contribute to overall economic growth through improved business opportunities, education, healthcare and security system.
Ericsson estimates the global energy cost of running mobile networks is about USD 25 billion yearly, making energy consumption one of our industry’s biggest challenges – from both cost and carbon footprint perspectives.
Traditional site deployment is optimized for high-growth scenarios, based on total deployment and management costs. Service providers that are investing heavily in spectrum to expedite 5G deployments face several challenges when expanding to rural communities, including how to monetize the spectrum because of low revenues, since there are fewer subscribers and the associated higher OPEX, e.g. energy costs.
Dependable and low-cost network energy plays a key role in enabling and providing reliable service to rural subscribers. Some energy-related challenges contributing to limit the roll out of new telecom sites at rural locations are as follows:
- High energy costs, which make up a substantial part of OPEX
- Diesel dependency, where the AC supply is unreliable or nonexistent
- Environmental regulations by authorities, e.g. CO2 tax
- Diesel generator restrictions due to noise or health concerns
- Outages due to power disturbance, impacting brand image
- Reliable renewable energy for 5G site reliability
Standard off-grid radio sites in rural areas can consume as much as 25,000 liters of diesel per year. In addition, sites using diesel generators require the following:
- High maintenance
- Regular refueling
- Very high fuel consumption
- Regular overhauling
- High battery backup for reliability
Ericsson acknowledges the energy challenges, costs and associated emissions that our industry is currently facing and is playing a leading role in addressing them through site products and solution innovations. These include industry best practices and designs, which enable service providers to build and deploy 5G with safety, simplicity and cost effectiveness front of mind.
Ericsson offers service providers a viable green-energy choice as a renewable power source to deploy and power rural 5G sites with one of the following use cases:
- Pure solar power option
- Hybrid solar-grid power option
Hybrid solar-grid power is the most attractive option of the two. It provides low TCO power with up to 75% OPEX reduction, through which service providers can bring solar power to grid sites as an intelligent use of renewable energy source in networks to boost sustainability.
Green energy site solutions
The key to affordable solar power is optimal site dimensioning to minimize average daily power consumption. This involves choosing a slim configuration and using the most energy-efficient hardware variants and software features.
Ericsson Radio System (ERS) enclosures, along with our battery-backup using smart lithium ion and lead acid, forms part of our site portfolio which is designed to enable and fulfill the solar and green-energy solution needs of service providers.
Below are some options that contain solutions with low total cost of ownership. They are designed to enable service providers to deploy sites cost effectively and conveniently at remote and rural locations:
High-Capacity Green Energy Site Solution
The High-Capacity Green Energy Site Solution provides high-output power capacity with high-efficiency maximum power point tracker (MTTP) solar charge controller (DC-DC convertor). It serves as a multipurpose all-in-one enclosure and is designed to support a multitude of equipment such as ERS baseband, transport, and third party (3PP) vendor equipment.
With internal Li-Ion battery support and external lead acid, as well as 19” user-equipment space, this option provides rack space ensuring plenty of capacity for new deployments and expansions. It also enables complete Ericsson Network Management (ENM) integration for remote monitoring and management.
Compact Footprint Green Energy Site Solution
Compact Footprint Green Energy Site Solution is a small form-factor option with a high-efficiency MTTP solar charge controller (DC-DC convertor). It serves as a compact multi-purpose enclosure to support a multitude of equipment, such as ERS baseband, transport, and 3PP vendor equipment. With battery back-up, all in a streamlined design and minimized footprint and optimized 19” user equipment space, it provides cost-efficient site deployment along with end-to-end ENM integration for remote monitoring and management.
Both solar-site-solution options include the smart-site controller, which provides support for smart energy features such as power and battery system management. These are designed to ensure optimal energy usage and substantial battery life extension and require fewer site visits.
Real-time control of all assets, intelligent actionable insights, smart energy management, and predictive data control offer significant improvements to site efficiency and security.
Ericsson’s deployed green energy solutions consume on average 20% less power from the grid under optimal conditions. During peak solar time, 75% of required energy is derived from solar power.
Enabling Ericsson’s green-energy solution, along with high-efficiency solar panels and robust solar support structures, where requirements and feasibility are met, means service providers will be able to:
- Secure a green off-grid option for site deployments
- Eliminate undesired diesel and CO2 emissions
- Reduce electricity, diesel and maintenance costs
- Utilize renewable and sustainable power solutions
- Significantly lower network energy OPEX
- Fulfill environmental regulatory and government obligations
- Provide the latest technology at optimal cost to rural subscribers
Ericsson is working to improve site dependability by combining several renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and fuel cells. The aim is to provide sustainable and cost-efficient power solutions to fulfil the requirements at commercial sites for rural connectivity and economic development as well as reduce environment impact.