Orange Guinea Conakry and Ericsson are deploying more than 100 base stations fully powered by solar energy, connecting remote parts of rural Africa.
Using Ericsson's energy-efficient base stations, a hybrid diesel-battery solution and solar panels, Orange is increasing mobile coverage in rural and urban areas, while taking concrete steps towards its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. This enables remote areas without an established power grid to get access mobile communications.
Alassane Diene, CEO of Orange-Guinea Conakry, says: "We are reducing our energy bill. These base stations are also easier to install and require less maintenance than the traditional site. They also offer greater reliability and therefore considerably improved quality of service."
Jan Embro, president of Ericsson for sub-Saharan Africa, says: "It is extremely exciting to be able to run sites on alternative energy sources. Limiting dependency on fossil fuels brings many advantages, but the greatest is the ability to offer sustainable connectivity to low-income users in remote areas across Africa."
Ericsson's hybrid diesel-battery energy solution replaces one of a site's diesel generators with a bank of specially designed batteries that can handle a large amount of charging and discharging. This self-contained power solution can be set to meet the batteries' optimal charging and discharging levels, extending the lifetime of the battery and the generator, and reducing energy-related costs by about 50%.
The Ericsson BTS 2111 radio base station is a main-remote solution without any active moving parts such as cooling fans. It reduces energy consumption up to 50%, allowing the site to be fully powered by solar energy, supported by a battery bank for 24/7 operation.
This rollout programme supports the sustainability initiatives of both Ericsson and Orange, focusing on reducing the carbon footprint while making communication more affordable and accessible. Orange Group intends to have more than 1 000 wholly solar-powered base stations in its African operations by the end of 2009.
Ericsson was first to deploy solar power in telecom, back in 2000. As radio technology becomes more energy-efficient, solar solutions have become increasingly economically viable. Reaching the next billion subscribers means expanding to rural off-grid areas. Ericsson sees attractive business cases for using renewable solutions all around the world.