In a German village about 100 miles north of Munich, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson are pioneering the use of solar energy for mobile broadband sites. The use of renewable energy is increasing in sectors across Germany, but solar modules have not yet been used to power commercial mobile broadband sites. Through the joint initiative, the two companies want to show that independent energy supply for mobile phone sites with solar power is possible.
As part of the project, small solar modules – with a total surface area of about 12 m2 (129 ft2) – were erected at a Deutsche Telekom mobile site in Dittenheim. The Ericsson Power System is handling maximum power point tracking (MPP) as well as the necessary voltage conversion. The solution also includes integration of the solar solutions into the same management system that also controls the Radio Access Network (RAN).
The tests, carried out in the second half of 2020, showed that solar energy is able to contribute to more than two-thirds of the site’s total power during peak hours. Depending on the solar irradiation and technology configuration, larger shares, including up to fully autonomous power supply, where are also observed. This is thanks to the energy-efficient radio equipment.
The project confirms the potential of solar energy as an alternative power source for mobile sites and opens up for other renewable power sources.
Leif Heitzer, Senior Vice President Technology Guidance & Economics at Deutsche Telekom, says: “Autonomous power supply for mobile sites not only reduces our CO2 emissions, but also shall help enabling network expansion in locations, where development costs were previously not economical.”
Heather Johnson, Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson is a driving force for global climate action and this project is another example for how a network-level approach can be deployed sustainably for mobile networks. We welcome this partnership with Deutsche Telekom and we continue to be committed to supporting our customers, manage their network energy consumption and related carbon emissions.”
The initiative is intended to make an important contribution for energy transition efforts and towards reducing the impact on climate change. Since the beginning of 2021, Deutsche Telekom has been sourcing its electricity throughout the group exclusively from renewable energies. By 2030, other CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 90 percent compared to 2017.
Ericsson is a strong supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and is an active member of the Exponential Roadmap initiative. Telecommunication infrastructure enables innovations in many industry sectors, leading to more efficient business processes and ultimately a low-carbon society.
Ericsson has a high focus on the energy efficiency of its portfolio, as detailed end-to-end Life Cycle Analysis reveals that the operational phase of the product is responsible for about 80 percent of CO2 emission of the total life cycle. A higher energy efficiency of the radio site solutions means that local generated renewable energy will become more feasible. Furthermore, Ericsson has set a goal to become climate neutral by 2030 in its own activities.