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Sun power for mobile towers in Nigeria


Mobile tower operating company IHS says it has unveiled the largest solar-power cell site in Africa, in a bid to reduce its dependence on rising fuel costs and insufficient electricity supplies on the continent.

The company says it has converted 90% of its 900 mobile towers in Nigeria to use solar power. The towers that are being converted to use energy from the sun are owned by IHS, but the company also manages the leasing of 4000 towers owned by telecoms companies on the continent.

Every one of the sun-powered towers that IHS owns has a 96 square metre solar site that produces a total capacity of 12 kilowatt peak (kWp). The towers, however, use a hybrid power solution, in which they do rely more on electricity from generators during peak loads

IHS representatives say their solar powered towers could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 24,000 tonnes per year.

And the company further adds that using solar power could reduce their towers' diesel consumption by between 40% to 50%, while also minimising their dependence on unreliable power supplies in parts of Africa.

“We’ve been trying several solutions to see what is the most optimal way to reduce opex, and due to the increase in the fuel costs lately, this solution is more attractive,” said William Saad, the group chief technical officer of IHS.

“Add to that, the costs of the solar systems and the batteries year by year are getting lower and lower,” said Saad.

Saad said the company sources its solar power batteries from Europe and the US. He also adds that converting a mobile tower site to solar power costs between $40000 to $65000 dollars per site.

The continent has approximately 100000 mobile towers, according to IHS Africa.

And demand for mobile towers has been driven by the continent's operators experienced “super growth” in the last 10 years, as subscriptions reached 500 million, according to a Booz & Company report.


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