Ericsson, Orange deploy solar base-stations in Africa

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless, Ericsson, Orange

Ericsson and Orange Guinea Conakry are deploying 100 mobile phone base stations in the African country of Guinea that use power from solar panels and diesel batteries, the companies said Thursday.

The new base stations replace ones that run on diesel fuel and are ubiquitous in many parts of Africa without reliable power grids. Mobile phone use has grown faster in Africa than many nations can put up power lines, leading to the use of base stations that run on diesel fuel. The stations have to be refilled regularly.

Orange Guinea Conakry hopes to reduce its electric bill and lower output of greenhouse gases using the base stations. The special diesel batteries on the solar base stations are designed to be recharged frequently without losing their effectiveness, which is a weak point for rechargeable batteries.

By tweaking the battery charge and discharge levels, Ericsson has been able to extend the life of the battery and generator, slashing energy costs by about 50 percent, the company said in a statement.

"It is extremely exciting to be able to run sites on alternative energy sources,"said Jan Embro, president of Ericsson for sub-Saharan Africa, in a statement.

"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," he said.

The Orange Group plans to roll out more than 1,000 wholly solar-powered base stations in Africa by the end of 2009, the statement says. The company's goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent before 2020.

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