Solar power coming of age for Sub-Saharan Africa’s remote base stations – completely replacing maintenance-heavy diesel generators

Once solar power was a corporate “virtue-signaling” project but with changes in cost and reliability, it is now making a pitch to replace the diesel generators that currently dominate the market.  Diesel generators come with five cost and operating disadvantages:

  1. The cost of diesel fuel is significant, and the cost of delivery to remote sites make diesel fuel more than 50% of the total operating expense for every remote tower.
  2. The poor reliability of diesel generators is such that two generators must be installed at each tower to approach the continuous energy requirement.
  3. The generators require that oil and filters be changed every 250 hours, which means a visit to the remote sites every 10 days. The entire generator is typically replaced or rebuilt every 18 to 24 months.
  4. Carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases created with the burning of diesel fuel for electricity at telecom towers are now understood to represent a significant part of the cause of climate change.
  5. Diesel fuel often gets stolen at multiple points in the supply chain. Theft was been estimated as high as 30% by many tower companies. Significant expense and effort to curtail theft have not stopped the problem.

Read full article: balancing act

 


 

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