News brief: Cellnex tries new clean-energy option for its sites

  • Cellnex has tens of thousands of tower sites around Europe
  • It has tested cutting-edge battery technology as an alternative to diesel for back-up power
  • Many operators are testing different types of renewable energy

European neutral host infrastructure giant Cellnex is the latest network operator to try out cutting-edge clean-energy technology that can provide a renewable power source for its infrastructure sites. 

Cellnex has “successfully” completed a pilot programme to validate the use of aluminium-air batteries, developed by Israeli clean-tech specialist Phinergy, as an alternative to using diesel generators for back-up power at its sites. A trial of the technology was carried out at Ossa de Montiel in the Spanish province of Albacete.

Phinergy, which counts Ericsson amongst its customers, has developed technology that enables renewable energy from hydroelectric power plants to be stored in blocks of aluminium, “a metal that is very abundant in nature and easy to transport and handle,” noted Cellnex. “Subsequently, to generate energy, the aluminium is combined with oxygen from ambient air, using state-of-the-art air electrodes, in a totally silent process that generates no emissions or pollution. Once the energy stored in the aluminium has been used, the end result is an aluminium oxide, which can be processed again to convert it into aluminium, thus closing the cycle without generating any type of polluting waste.”


The operator noted that the aluminium-air battery module used in the pilot project delivered 4kW of electricity, “enough to power a medium-sized telecommunications infrastructure” for 20 hours, and that the tests “validated use cases in which the battery functions as [an] uninterrupted power supply during cuts of between 20 minutes and 10 hours. In all cases, the aluminium battery automatically came into operation providing adequate backup to the main power system. In addition, the remote management and control system provided real-time information on the status of the battery, energy consumed and remaining available capacity.” 

Cellnex, of course, isn’t the only network operator exploring green network options – Orange, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are among those checking out energy source options. See related articles:

Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson tap forces of nature for 5G energy efficiencies

DT to show off green network innovation at #MWC22

Vodafone will follow the dictum of Robbie Burns and 'let the wind gang free' to self-power new phone masts and boost rural coverage

GenCell taps ammonia to slash telco remote site energy costs

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV


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