The rise of green mobile telecom towers


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Recent developments in renewable energies might overthrow the diesel generator as the technology of choice for off-grid mobile base stations.

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The rise of green mobile telecom towers

  1. 1. The rise of green mobile telecomtowers January 2013 www .t hi s i sxy .c o m
  2. 2. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towersContacts:Romeu Gasparromeu.gaspar@thisisxy.comUK: +44 (20) 3239 5245 | PT: +351 210 961 834Skype: xypartners 2
  3. 3. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towersThe rise of green mobile telecom towersRecent developm ents in powered by renewable energy.renew able energies m ight Global mobile telephony subscriptionsoverthrow the diesel generator will continue to grow over the next 5as the technology of choice for years (Exhibit 1). Increasedoff-grid m obile base stations. subscriptions and traffic will driveRenewable energy has evolved demand for additional base stations,considerably over the last couple of particularly in emergent regions:years. So much, in fact, that solutions Analysys Mason, arecently deemed to be unfeasible telecommunications research firm,might now warrant a second look. predicts that 3 out of 4 base stationsTake mobile telecom operators, for will be deployed in emergent markets.instance: diesel generators are usually A non-negligible part of these basepreferred over renewable energy stations will need to be deployed inbased solutions for remote off-grid remote regions with no access to thebase stations, because they are electrical grid. Diesel or propanecheaper and more reliable. In this generators are often used to powerarticle we explore three recent these off-grid telecom towers (Exhibitdevelopments that might tilt the 2), despite the high operation &balance in favor of telecom towers maintenance costs. These generators Exhibit 1 – 2008-2017 mobile telecom subscriptions, by region. 3
  4. 4. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towers Exhibit 2 – Example of a base station powered by a diesel generator (left), and one integrating solar PV (right)are sometimes combined with longer the case: PV module spotrenewable energy (typically solar PV, prices have fallen 65% since 2001 andwind, or both) but 100% renewable 73% since 2007 (Exhibit 3), putting PVenergy systems are rare, since the closer to wind energy, one of thelower operation & maintenance costs cheapest sources of renewableare usually not enough to offset the energy. This decrease is mainly thehigher capital costs and the risk of result of lower producing costs andintermittence due to the lack of solar or manufacturing overcapacity. In thewind resources. Three recent short-term prices are expected todevelopments might change this, stabilize or even increase slightly, asparticularly for solar PV based supply and demand rebalance. In thesolutions deployed in the sunbelt longer-term however, prices shouldcountries: lower PV prices, more continue to decrease, fuelled byrobust off-grid technology, and a technological advances and morebroader availability of ESCOs (Energy efficient manufacturing processes (aService Companies). topic we discuss in detail here).Decreasing solar PV pricesSolar photovoltaic has historicallybeen one of the most capital-intensiveforms of renewable energy. That is no 4
  5. 5. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towers Exhibit 3 – 2001-2012 PV module spot pricesMore robust off-grid technology is not the case with off-grid baseMost of the existing PV and wind stations, hindering the use of standardinstallations are grid-connected. That standalone PV and wind solutions.means that cloudy or windless days Industries such as mining and militaryare not an issue, since the electrical faced a similar challenge, and havegrid will act as a backup system. That been pushing the development of Exhibit 4 – 2012-2018 market value for micro-grids, by region 5
  6. 6. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towers Exhibit 5 – 2012-2021 market value storage for systems, by technologymore robust off-grid technologies. One Broader availability of ESCOsof these developments is the micro- Even with improved economics andgrid, a combination of hardware and reliability, deploying green basesoftware that allows for the integration stations might not be a soundand optimized management of multiple investment for many telecomenergy sources, both conventional and operators, as it veers off their corerenewable (not unlike a mobile phone business. ESCOs, or Energy Servicemanaging Wi-Fi and 3G networks to Companies, are arguably a betterensure a continuous data stream). alternative: these companies will payMarket value for these micro-grids is for and install the necessaryexpected to grow 25% per year from equipment, and sell the generated2012 to 2018 (Exhibit 4). power to the telecom operator. TheAdvanced storage systems are electricity price is set via a PPAanother relevant development, (Power Purchase Agreement) and willallowing for a more efficient and cost- depend on the characteristics of theeffective storage of energy. The base station, duration of the contractmarket for these systems is expected and risk-sharing model. ESCO modelsto grow 25% per year from 2012 to have become widespread in energy2021 (Exhibit 5), following an efficiency contracts for buildings, andincreasing demand from multiple are now available for a wide range ofindustries and applications. applications. In the US alone, ESCO 6
  7. 7. X&Y Partners The rise of green mobile telecom towers Exhibit 6 – 2010-2020 US market value for ESCO services, by applicationservices are expected to grow into a overthrow the diesel generator as the16B$ business by 2020 (Exhibit 6). technology of choice for off-grid mobile base stations.In conclusion, lower PV prices, morerobust off-grid technology and abroader availability of ESCOs might 7