Vodafone to launch self-powered mobile towers

Vodafone to launch self-powered mobile towers

25 November 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Vodafone has developed self-powered mobile towers that it will deploy across the UK, in support of the company’s goal of reaching net zero for its UK operations by 2027.

The aptly named Eco-Towers will enable the deployment of new mobile sites in the most remote locations, without the complexities and cost of connecting to the electricity grid.

“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges. Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry," said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK.

“Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net zero for its UK operations by 2027.”

For the last two years, Vodafone has been working with Crossflow Energy to develop Crossflow Energy’s wind turbine technology and combine it with the latest in solar and battery technologies, to create a self-powered mobile network tower.

Following this, Vodafone with network partner Cornerstone, will now run a proof of concept to install Crossflow Turbine technology on rural mobile sites.

“Cornerstone is committed to sustainability and safeguarding the future of our planet," said Rhys Philip, chief executive officer at Cornerstone.

"Piloting exciting initiatives like this with our partners and customers can only help us develop better ways of contributing to a sustainable, net-zero carbon emission future while ensuring a connected Britain.”

The news comes in support of Vodafone goal to expand mobile coverage to reach 95% of the UK landmass by 2025 and achieve net zero for its UK operations by 2027.  In addition, Vodafone UK will reach net zero operations by 2027 while globally Vodafone will halve emissions in its supply chain by 2030, before reaching net zero across its full value chain by 2040.

“We are really excited to be working with Vodafone. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show how our self-powered Eco-Tower solves the problem of harnessing ‘small wind’ to offer not just that all important carbon reduction but also significant commercial benefits," said Martin Barnes, chief executive officer at Crossflow Energy.

"In the case of Vodafone, it will help to accelerate the expansion of rural connectivity, transform energy consumption patterns and deliver significant economic and carbon savings. Our turbine technology has equally strong applications for so many other industries, but to have such a high-profile player as Vodafone deploying our Eco-Tower is a major endorsement for us and our technology.”

Additional benefits of the Eco-Towers include a lower environmental impact of the site due to the use of locally generated renewable power, as well as the fact that increased renewable contribution from the combination of wind and solar together with battery storage systems on site, removes reliance on diesel generators for back-up power.

Use of quiet, bird-friendly turbine makes the Eco-Tower viable for the most sensitive of sites, including areas of outstanding natural beauty, and use of on-site power generation that is independent from electricity grid improves security of supply.