October 15, 2015 — Downtime is no stranger to India’s wireless industry. More than 70 percent of India’s 425,000 telecom towers are hit by power outages of eight hours per day disconnecting nearly half of the country’s 935 million mobile phone users. Diesel generators are currently the main back-up power source but are costly, inefficient and dirty. Intelligent Energy Holdings is aiming to begin to change that with hydrogen fuel cells that are efficient, cleaner and cheaper.
The U.K.-based firm has signed an agreement to supply energy management, including fuel cells, to more than 27,400 telecom towers in India, a deal that is worth upwards $1.8 billion over the next 10 years.
Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy Holdings, said “Our technology will not only help to bring a stable, reliable power supply to these towers, it will also demonstrate the full power of hydrogen fuel cells today, and in the future.”
These are good times for the fuel cell industry, which had more than $2.2 billion in sales last year, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), up from $1.3 billion in 2013. In addition, an investment of more than $20 million is planned by the DOE to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.
In May at UTC Telecom & Technology 2015 in Atlanta, Plug Power introduced an integrated outside plant enclosure as part of a turnkey fuel cell backup power and hydrogen servicing solution, dramatically reducing the radio shack footprint at the base of the tower. The single cabinet solution provides space for network power and communications equipment, reducing capital and operational expenses at each site.
Last month, Plug Power’s Integrated OSP solution with ReliOn fuel cells and GenFuel hydrogen fueling infrastructure won first place in the WAN division of CTIA’s annual Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards program.
The product was originally developed for use by SouthernLINC, which is transitioning from iDEN to an Ericsson evolved packet core and 500 LTE sites. But now it has caught the eye of the major carriers.