Telecom Operators

Elisa and Ålcom harness solar energy for base station batteries

Elisa and Ålcom harness solar energy for base station batteries

Ålcom, an Åland Islands telecom company, is set to integrate Elisa’s Distributed Energy Storage (DES) system, marking the first use of solar energy in mobile network operations. This follows a successful trial with Elisa and Solel Åland, the solar panel provider. The DES system enables Ålcom to harness solar energy for its mobile network backup batteries, reducing costs and carbon footprint while bolstering network resilience and lessening grid dependence.

The innovative solution pairs solar panels with batteries to create a storage system that captures and conserves solar energy. This energy not only powers the network but also allows for grid supplementation when necessary. Elisa DES smartly schedules battery charging and discharging to coincide with lower electricity prices, enhancing the efficiency of the mobile network’s power usage.

Elisa DES’s introduction of solar energy into its system represents a significant advancement, transforming mobile network backup batteries from grid-only powered to more efficient, renewable energy-operated units. This shift not only offers cost savings on mandatory backup energy storage but also opens up a new revenue avenue by providing balancing services to the electricity grid, effectively turning backup batteries into a virtual power plant. The addition of renewable energy sources to Elisa DES’s capabilities is a stride towards carbon neutrality, offering telecom operators both environmental and economic benefits.

Elisa’s VP for AI and Special Projects, Jukka-Pekka Salmenkaita, highlighted the circularity in the partnership by stating how they can “..harness AI/ML-powered technology and renewable power generation in mobile network operations to fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions”. Likewise, Peter Löfman, Head of Network from Ålcom expressed his enthusiasm to “add solar energy to our operations with Elisa DES” and went on saying that “Including solar production in the energy mix helps us reduce costs and gain flexibility and means to cope with variability and uncertainty in energy generation, demand, and grid availability. DES, in combination with the larger Li-Ion batteries used in the solution, will also be critical should we ever be cut off from the grid for a longer period of time”.

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