Powering telecom towers

Heliocentris’ clean energy-based value proposition for the telecom industry is starting to make headway

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With GCC countries turning their attention towards energy efficiency, Germany-headquartered Heliocentris has set its sights on being the solution provider of choice in the region’s rapidly growing telecom sector.

“We prove energy efficiency solutions for telecom companies, whether it is a commercial operator or a Tetra operator,” says Michael Kutschenreuter, general manager of Heliocentris’ Middle East operations. “Our technology and know-how can save them more than 50% of their diesel consumption.”

In its current roll-out-phase, the company is targeting base stations of mobile telecom operators in countries with poor or unreliable grid coverage in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Kutschenreuter explains: “Most of the time, telecom companies operate their off-grid base stations and antennas using generators 24×7. But a generator is the most inefficient way of producing electricity, consuming as it does a lot of fuel while polluting the air with CO2 emissions. We have focused on the telecom industry because our solutions can save energy, fuel and money for the operators.”

Heliocentris’ core offering is energy management software which monitors and optimises generator usage. The hybrid power solution entails the installation of deep cycle batteries in parallel with the generator to bring its 24-hour running time down to below 10 hours. During these 10 hours, the generator charges the batteries and runs the base station. Once they are fully charged, the generator is switched off and the batteries take over the base station power supply.

“Our energy management software helps optimise the total usage of power sources at that site,” says Kutschenreuter. “We can also add clean power components like solar and wind or even fuel cells to provide generator-free, clean power solutions to the customer.”

In the UAE, for example, du has decided to convert all its off-grid base stations to smart hybrid power by deploying Heliocentris’ solution. This is in alignment with the UAE government’s move towards sustainable energy and the national objective to reduce diesel consumption and CO2 emissions by 50%.

According to Kutschenreuter, the 50% fuel savings apart, operators also save on capex as well because the generator runs for only 10 rather than 24 hours and therefore lasts much longer. Moreover, the maintenance cycle is also cut by two thirds, resulting in opex savings.


However, Heliocentris is more than just a technology supplier. Globally, telecom operators prefer to focus on their core radio business of radio, outsourcing the capex heavy infrastructure – base stations and antennas – to specialised companies.

“We not only deliver energy-efficient base stations, but also offer attractive opex concepts,” says Kutschenreuter. “We will operate the equipment for the customer, who pays us a monthly usage fee. This enables them to cut down their opex costs while reducing the equipment’s impact on their balance sheets.”

In many countries, mobile operators are selling or spinning off their tower infrastructure into independent companies. The new ‘tower companies’ are potential customers for Heliocentris, as they too have to optimise energy usage by reducing maintenance and generator cost.

The German firm recently acquired FutureE Fuel Cell Solutions, a leading integrator of fuel cell systems for applications in the telecoms sector. The acquisition will enable Heliocentris to develop fuel cell-based power solutions in stationary applications from 1kW to 20kW.

The integration of Heliocentris’ energy management system into the fuel cell technology of FutureE will allow for significantly lower operating expenditure vis-à-vis solutions based on diesel generators at comparable acquisition costs.

“We have seen a steadily growing interest from some of the leading telecom operators to combine different sources of sustainable energy, including fuel cells,” says Kutschenreuter. “We definitely have the right approach and technology to meet the high requirements in terms of security and availability for Tetra Networks, where we are able to provide completely clean energy solutions.”

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