Cell Phones to Get Clean Energy Boost, Increasing by 41x

solar panels backlighting photo

Photo via Abi Skipp via Flickr CC

A new report from Pike Research forcasts good news for renewable energy and mobile base stations (the wireless communications station used to connect cell phone networks). Clean energy will power 4.5% of base stations by 2014, and while that doesn't sound like much, it's a boost up from the mere 0.11% in 2010, a 4090% increase. But even more exciting is the percentage of base stations powered by renewable energy in developing countries will jot up to 8% by 2014. With mobile phone subscriptions hitting 5 billion worldwide, a boost in clean energy is a big deal for carbon emissions. In developing countries, cell phones are a significant source of communication. More people have access to cell phones than they do sanitation services. But that connection to cell phones also means a need for base stations, and there is often a major missing piece of the puzzel -- a power grid. Cell phone base stations that can run off renewable energy such as solar power is important for keeping callers connected, so it is no wonder that clean energy will be ramped up in the next few years. But the best part is the clean energy boost is happening not just in developing countries.

Between more energy efficient infrastructure and a more cost-effective power source like solar and wind, mobile network operators will be able to drop the cost (both economic and environmental) of running cellular networks.

Pike Research states, "Pike Research's analysis also shows that mobile network infrastructure equipment is rapidly becoming more energy-efficient, owing to a series of initiatives by equipment vendors and network operators. The firm believes that lower base station power requirements will make it even easier to integrate renewable energy into mobile networks. In the process, the global wireless industry will have a significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions associated with network operations."

Sony Ericsson has been on the trail of using renewable energy for rural base stations for the last several years, and Motorola is not far behind, all of which helps cut the total carbon footprint of the nearly 5 billion cell phone subscribers.

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