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A green power boost for rural areas

Making contact via E-site, Kenya. Photo: David Gustavsson

Flexenclosure uses the sun and wind to power base stations for telephony in developing countries lacking sufficient electricity. This low-energy technology reduces operating costs and carbon emissions.

Flexenclosure is an environmental technology company based in Vara on the Västgöta plains, specialising in adapted energy solutions for global telecom companies. Its flagship, E-Site, is a system for powering base stations in places where no electricity is available. E-site primarily uses renewable energy sources (sun and wind) to power the stations. The environmental and economic benefits are reduced diesel consumption, lower costs and a reduction of up to 90 per cent in carbon emissions compared with a diesel-driven generator.

The flagship sails on

Today, the product range includes everything from power solutions to complete computer halls. E-site technology is constantly developing. Its special feature is its ‘brain’, the Diriflex control system. Here, power generation is maximised using renewable energy sources, and the Diriflex also ensures that the battery bank is being used efficiently. According to the company, base stations using E-site can push efficiency levels above 90 per cent, as opposed to maybe 60 per cent from wind turbines or solar panels plugged into a base station. Flexenclosure notes that a growing number of mobile operators are seeking green solutions for their rural base stations.

The beauty of it

"The economic beauty of it is that the reduced operating costs you get with E-site act as a strong incentive on mobile operators to install this green solution", says CEO Stefan Jern. He adds:

"No political pressure, law amendments or government subsidies are required. What’s good for the customer - lower operating costs when renewable energy substitutes polluting diesel oil - is also good for the environment. The company’s calculations speak for themselves: a single base station run wholly on diesel oil can use 20,000 litres per year. This means a total annual operating cost of between USD 30,000 and 50,000. With E-site, the cost can be reduced by up to 90 per cent, which means a saving of almost USD 45,000 dollars per year/site. Reduced diesel dependence also reduces vulnerability to diesel price hikes."

Reduced use of diesel

The environmental benefits are equally obvious. The reduced use of diesel for powering a base station corresponds to a reduction in carbon emissions of something like 50 tons per site/year. In Nigeria alone, there are several thousand diesel powered telecom stations. Here, the technology can reduce carbon emissions by over 100,000 tons per year.

"While upgrading a diesel-powered site with solar panels and wind turbines to an E-site may seem like a relatively expensive move, such an investment is recouped in the space of about two years", says Stefan Jern.

"Over five years, the mobile operator’s return often exceeds 100 per cent."

Surplus energy for the community

A new and highly interesting feature developed in collaboration with Ericsson is Community Power, which enables mobile operators using E-site to distribute surplus energy from the base stations to local communities. In practice, it transforms the site into a power plant supplying the communities surrounding it. Places where electricity has never been available can now access it to charge mobile phones, to light streets and to run cold-storage rooms for medicines etc.

Community Power has aroused great interest in the telecom industry and won the industry’s most prestigious prize, the Global Mobile Award, in the category Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development.

Flexenclosure AB

Genre picture for Wind Energy.

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