Vodafone has developed self-powered portable towers and aims to deploy them across the UK. This is the latest part of its plan to expand its reach and offer new services while reducing energy consumption in its future networks, supporting its goal of achieving net zero UK operations by 2027.
Globally in 21 countries, Vodafone is halving emissions in its supply chain by 2030, before hitting net zero across the entire value chain by 2040.
In April 2021, Vodafone and Ericsson began experimenting with drones and 3D technology based on Lidar. With drones collecting high-resolution images and Lidar technology that collects data to help build 2D digital 3D models, specialized operators will only need to travel to sites to conduct surveys.
In September, Vodafone announced that it was using Ericsson’s “breakthrough” power solution for 5G network equipment to reduce the expected power consumption of its future network. The new 5G radio module is said to be 43% more energy efficient than its old counterpart.
For the past two years, the operator has been working with renewable energy technology firm Crossflow Energy to develop what is said to be unique and innovative wind turbine technology, along with new solar and battery technologies, to create a mobile, self-powered tower. Vodafone, along with network partner Cornerstone, will now run a proof of concept installation of Crossflow Turbine technology on rural mobile sites.
Vodafone considers the adoption of technologies such as the self-powered site as essential to meet its energy saving ambitions. In addition to reducing Vodafone’s energy consumption, the self-powered sites eliminate the need to be connected to the power grid, overcoming what the operator says can be an insurmountable civil engineering challenge when building new sites in most rural areas of the UK .
Other potential benefits of environmental towers cited by Vodafone include: the use of locally generated renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact of the site; Increasing the renewable contribution by combining wind, solar and on-site battery storage systems, which may reduce reliance on diesel generators for backup power; Quiet and bird-friendly turbine can make the ecological tower applicable in the most sensitive locations, including areas of outstanding natural beauty; Off-grid power generation may improve security of supply.
“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very important challenges,” said Andrea Donna, chief network officer at Vodafone UK. “Connecting the masts to the power grid can be a major barrier to achieving this goal, so making these sites self-sustaining is a huge step forward for us and the mobile industry.
“Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no magic bullet to reduce energy consumption, but each of these steps forward brings us closer to achieving net zero for our UK operations by 2027. “
Martin Barnes, CEO of Crossflow Energy, added: “We are really excited to be working with Vodafone. It’s a great opportunity to show how the self-powered Eco-Tower solves the problem of harnessing the “small wind” to provide not only critical carbon reduction, but significant commercial benefits as well.
“In Vodafone’s case, this will help accelerate the expansion of rural connectivity, transform energy consumption patterns, and deliver significant economy and carbon savings. Our turbine technology has equally strong applications in many other industries, but the presence of a high-profile player like Vodafone Our eco-friendly publication is a huge support for us and our technology.”