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Combining Fuel Cells with Solar for Telecom Pilot

Linda Hardesty

Ballard Energy ManageBallard Power Systems will be supplying ElectraGen-ME 2.5 kW methanol-based fuel cell systems for a pilot project in Idea Cellular’s India telecom network. The fuel cell systems will be combined with solar technology to generate continuous power at five wireless base station sites.

Funding for a feasibility study as well as the pilot project has been made available through a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). The trial is scheduled to take place in early 2014.

Idea Cellular is India’s third-largest mobile services operator with 128 million subscribers and has been powering telecom base stations in the region of Nadga, Madhya Pradesh with Ballard Power’s ElectraGen-H2 direct hydrogen systems since early 2012. These systems utilize by-product hydrogen from a nearby chemical product plant as a low-cost fuel source.

India’s Department of Telecommunications has mandated that at least 50 percent of all rural cell towers and 20 percent of urban cell towers be powered using clean energy systems by 2015. The regulation is targeted at reducing the country’s reliance on diesel generators, which currently power 60 percent of all wireless base station sites.



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