New ‘Eco-Towers’ boast built-in wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries, allowing Vodafone to extend coverage to remote, off-grid locations
Vodafone is hoping to deploy mobile communications masts across the UK which power themselves using built-in wind, solar, and battery technologies, the telecoms giant revealed today.
The firm has developed the new ‘Eco-Towers’ to be entirely self-reliant on their own renewable energy systems, enabling them to bring mobile communications to the UK’s most remote locations without facing the challenges and costs of connecting to the electricity grid, it explained.
Vodafone said it had been working for the past two years with Crossflow Energy on the development of “unique and innovative” wind turbine technology, which combined with the latest solar and battery technologies, has enabled the firms to create a self-powered mobile network tower.
The final design has yet to be fully deployed, but working in collaboration with network partner Cornerstone, the firms now plan to run a proof of concept with a view to then installing the Crossflow Turbine technology at rural mobile sites across the UK, they said.
The rollout of the self-powered masts would help support Vodafone’s target to expand its mobile coverage across 95 per cent of UK landmass by 2025, while also supporting its goal to achieve net zero emissions across its UK operations by 2027, according to the firm’s chief network officer Andrea Dona.
“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges,” she explained. “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.”
Utilising the Eco-Towers will also help to boost Vodafone’s use of renewable power, reduce the need for back-up diesel generators, and bolster security of energy supply, while the small wind turbines themselves are both quiet and “bird friendly”, it said.
“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,” added Dona.
Martin Barnes, CEO at Crossflow Energy, said the initiative would help to demonstrate the carbon and commercial benefits of using ‘small wind’ technology, which he said could have “equally strong applications for so many industries”.
“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,” he said.
The news follows Vodafone’s announcement earlier this week that it has launched a range of refurbished mobile phones through its VOXI network brand, in a bid to help extend the life of devices, reduce electronic waste, and allow customers to save hundreds of pounds.
Customers can now purchase several different refurbished Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone models at prices that are several hundred pounds lower than their brand-new price tags, Vodafone said.
In addition, the firm has teamed up with rainforest charity Cool Earth as part of an initiative that will see VOXI donate over £60,000 towards supporting “biodiversity, people, and trees”. Through the VOXI Drop reward scheme, customers can log into their account and select the Cool Earth project they wish to support, which will then receive a £4 donation from VOXI, the company explained.