2009 Green Basestation Summit: Renewable Energy Key to Cost Savings

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 8:43am
Contributor Christopher Felder

San Diego, CA -- At this year’s Green Basestations Summit Americas, the mood was upbeat and the dialogue exchanges were encouraging. Overall, the common thread among presentations was the concern for energy efficiencies, imminent increases in operating expenses, reductions in carbon emissions, and a general acceptance that there are renewable energy solutions that can adequately power wireless networks.

Seemingly, the shared consensus among attendees was that when it comes to implementing eco-friendly energy solutions, the greatest challenges and barriers remain -- overcoming the capital-oriented business case. Nevertheless, both operators and providers of renewable-energy solutions presented their cases for emphasizing “social costs” when analyzing the viability of capital investments, and not without many references to Total Cost of Ownership (“TCO”), a financial estimate used to determine all direct and indirect costs of a certain infrastructure, including social costs.

We all know base stations are power hungry, and I was very impressed by the operators and vendors in attendance for their understanding of the issues and for articulating the TCO of their telecommunications networks. For example, if the operators consume an average of 62,000 kilowatt-hours per year for each cell site installed (at the expense of approximately $6,000 to the utility), and if 1 percent of cell sites in the US can be taken completely off-grid (2,459),  it translates to an annual savings of 90,842 US tons of CO2 which includes 24,800 US tons of carbon  (in addition to the annual savings of $14,754,000).

Now if you were to change the subset of wireless sites by specifically aiming at those sites with multiple operators and include an energy solution that they may all share, the calculated numbers just soar.

The figures support the excitement, and I anticipate next year’s Green Basestations Summit Americas will be an even bigger success. According to Clint Wheelock of Pike Research, “Forecasts indicate that green telecom network infrastructure investments will represent 46 percent of global capital expenditures by 2013 – a $126 billion market.” Surely, upcoming shows will attract more green vendors.

But I predict we’ll also be seeing more senior managers from the operators, equipment manufacturers, and tower owners, as well as experts in finance, construction, real estate, utilities, zoning, and government incentives.



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