France-based energy generating set manufacturer SDMO has developed a hybrid solution specifically for the telecommunications (telecoms) sector, which can include a standard generator plus a battery bank, or a generator with a battery bank and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
SDMO has been developing the hybrid solution over the last 16 months, and has recently taken its first two orders from two telecoms operators, one based in the Middle East and the other in Africa.
The company has existing experience in power supply for telecoms base stations located in remote areas, and provides solutions drawing power from the grid in combination with use of a generator set, or grid-free generating sets, and now, the renewable energy hybrid solutions.
Despite the environmental benefits of decreased emissions, which has become a specification of some governments, the hybrid generating sets lower operating costs by cutting fuel consumption considerably, explained SDMO export director Patrick Le Guen.
The hybrid solution consisting of standard generator set and a battery pack enables storage, which optimises the use of the energy produced. It reduces fuel consumption, and the number of running hours for the generating set.
The hybrid solution including PV panels, can store energy and allow for additional PV input, to further minimise use of the generating set.
Solar input can also extend battery discharge and thereby reduce the cycle number. With an equivalent system and load, the battery unit will thus have a longer service life and consumption will be lower for the generating set.
The solution with PV is said to save about 85% of the cost of fuel for the base station, while the solution with only the generating set and battery bank could save up to 77% of fuel costs.
The savings are largely related to fuels costs, but there are also savings on maintenance. While the initial capital cost is more expensive, it is envisaged that return on investment can be reached in about two years.
The generator sets come as ‘plug and play' module, in a container, which is designed, built and tested at the SDMO facility.
The average life of the battery bank is five years, and Le Guen stated that one of the major challenges of creating the hybrid solution, was to ensure that an operator gets the best efficiency from the system, and protects the duration of life of the battery bank.
Thus the solution was developed in close collaboration with the Smart Energy Centre, which fits the control panels in the generating set. The system ensures the intelligent management of resources, and prolongs the life of the equipment.
The hybrid solutions are described as particularly appropriate for the telecoms industry since remote base stations have electricity requirements ranging from 600 W to 5 kW in 24V DC.
However, it is expected that the hybrid solutions will play a greater role in rural electrification projects going forward.
The development of the hybrid solution came about as telecoms operators sought to lower their operating costs of off-grid base stations. SDMO invests some 90% of its profits back into the company for innovation research and development.
In South Africa, SDMO products are distributed through Sub-Sahara Power Distribution, and the company has provided generators for World Cup stadiums, supermarkets, banks and construction companies in the country.
Le Guen was addressing participants gathered at a French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry energy forum breakfast.