TUESDAY 02 APRIL, 2013 |
DOCOMO Field Testing Solar Communications Stations
Japanese mobile phone operator DOCOMO has begun begin field testing mobile
network base stations powered by solar panels.
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 that triggered the massive
tsunami, communications in affected areas were severely hampered, which impacted
on rescue and recovery efforts. Even in Tokyo, the mobile phone network was shut
down and landline phone services were severely disrupted.
A full day after the event, cell phone service across a wide swathe of eastern Japan
remained unavailable or severely degraded.
DOCOMO set about developing disaster-proof base stations to cope with similar
situations, which it has been testing at its research and development center.
10 of the solar powered base stations will now be rolled out in the Kanto-Koshinetsu region of Japan;
with the first three to appear in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Yamanashi prefectures.
If mains electricity supply is cut off during a disaster, the station can switch
to battery power to run communication equipment. The base stations connect to
the telecommunications network through a satellite link.
Each base station has a 4.19 kW solar panel array, more than enough to provide
the stations' maximum power consumption of 2.0 kW. The deep cycle battery banks
store 14-16 hours' worth of power that can be tapped when solar resources are
The batteries can also be charged with mains electricity purchased at
night-time, when costs are relatively low.
Aside from the disaster-proofing aspect; these green base stations use less
power when connected to mains. DOCOMO says it is also making progress in
developing an efficient power distribution network for all base stations nationwide
and an internal smart grid framework to control the distribution of power among multiple green base stations.
DOCOMO says its green base station development program may also include the use of fuel cell technologies and wind-powered base stations.
is Japan's largest mobile service provider, serving more than 60 million customers.
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