Vodafone lights UK’s first live ‘self-powered’ mobile phone mast, Sustainability

The technology could not only support the race to net zero, but also help bring connectivity to “non-spots” in remote and rural areas.

  • The mobile phone mast incorporates a wind turbine, solar panels and on-site battery storage.
  • The initiative opens the prospect of connectivity to cover “non-spots” in remote and rural areas.
  • Supports Vodafone’s goal of zero net operations in the UK by 20271.

Vodafone has lit the UK’s first wind and solar powered mobile phone mast in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The mast will provide 4G coverage to the community of Eglwyswrw2.

The purpose-built mast, which potentially eliminates the need for a connection to the national power grid, could provide connectivity to ‘non-spots’ in the UK’s most remote and inaccessible locations, helping the industry reach 95% of UK landmass coverage by 2025.3. It will also help Vodafone reduce its carbon emissions and support its goal of achieving net zero operations in the UK by 2027.

The “self-powered” mast incorporates a unique Crossflow Energy wind turbine that can generate power even in light winds. The mast can be installed without the need to dig trenches and lay electrical cables, making it quicker and easier to install and reducing the impact on the local environment.

It is also extremely quiet, making it viable for sensitive sites such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It can also be ‘filtered’ as a solid object by radar, birds and bats, so it is easily avoided, making it less harmful to wildlife.

The trial, in partnership with wind turbine technology specialists Crossflow Energy and mobile infrastructure partner Cornerstone, is taking place at Home Farm in the village of Eglwyswrw. It will run for two years and the data collected will help Vodafone optimize the technology and determine which sites are best suited for ‘self-powered’ masts.

Bringing mobile and internet services to rural communities helps boost the local economy, fight isolation and reduce the rural digital divide. To date, the construction of pylons in “non-point” coverage areas without an existing electricity connection has represented a significant financial and logistical challenge.

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer and Development Director, Vodafone, said“Connectivity is vital for everyone, no matter where you live. This self-powered mobile phone mast, with on-site battery storage, could help us connect places that were previously inaccessible. It will also help us reduce carbon emissions and minimize our impact on local environments.

“If this trial is successful, we would like to deploy more ‘self-powered’ masts, focusing on areas with little or no coverage.”

Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “Improving mobile coverage and digital connectivity across Wales is a priority for the UK Government and is hugely important to our economy.

“As we seek to create more sustainable growth and jobs, it is fantastic to see green innovation being tested in our rural communities.”

Martin Barnes, CEO of Crossflow Energy, said“We are incredibly delighted to be partnering with Vodafone for this UK first. Until now, the use of ‘small wind turbines’ in the race to net zero has been limited due to performance issues, reliability and planning issues, such as noise, vibration and ecological damage.

“Our unique wind turbine design addresses all of these challenges head-on. We believe that one day its use could be as widespread and common as solar panels.

Rhys Phillip, CEO of Cornerstone, said: “As the UK’s leading tower builder, we are proud to be involved in this historic project, driving innovation to create scalable and sustainable connectivity solutions. We look forward to continuing our collaboration in our journey towards environmentally friendly site designs. »

Vodafone has pledged to achieve net zero operations in the UK by 20271. His transition to 100% renewable electricity has already had a significant impact and reduced carbon emissions from its UK operations by 55%4 over the previous year. He recently signed a 10 year electricity contract with three new solar farms in Lincolnshire, Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire, securing their development and bringing an additional supply of renewable energy to the UK grid.

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