Vodafone switches on ‘self-powering’ mobile mast in Welsh countryside
Image credit: Vodafone
Vodafone has switched on the UK’s first live ‘self-powering’ mobile phone mast that could boost connectivity in areas with poor coverage.
The mast - located in Pembrokeshire, Wales - also incorporates a wind turbine, solar panels and on-site battery storage so that it can operate in remote areas without a good electricity supply.
It will provide 4G coverage to the community of Eglwyswrw and is one of the initiatives that Vodafone is taking to meet its target of net zero UK operations by 2027.
The specially designed mast will improve connectivity in ‘not-spots’ in the UK’s most remote and inaccessible locations and could help the industry achieve its stated goal of 95 per cent coverage of the UK landmass by 2025.
Vodafone also said that every area of its business in the UK – including its network, data centres, retail stores and offices – is now 100 per cent powered by electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydro.
The ‘self-powering’ mast incorporates a '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 electricity cables, making it faster and easier to install and reducing the impact on the local environment.
It has also been designed to be quiet so that it can be used in sensitive sites such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It can also be ‘filtered out’ as a solid object by radar, birds and bats, so it is easily avoided, making it less harmful to wildlife.
Andrea Dona, Vodafone’s chief network officer, said: “Connectivity is vital to everyone, no matter where you live. This self-powering mobile phone mast, with on-site battery storage, could help us connect places that were previously impossible to reach. It will also help us reduce carbon emissions and minimise our impact on local environments.
“If this trial is a success, we would like to roll out more ‘self-powering’ masts, with a focus on areas with poor 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 for our economy.
“As we look to create more sustainable growth and jobs, it is fantastic to see green innovation being trialled in our rural communities.”
Martin Barnes, CEO, Crossflow Energy, said: “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with Vodafone on this UK first. Until now, the use of ‘small wind’ turbines in the race to net zero has been limited due to issues of performance, reliability, and planning concerns, such as noise, vibration, and damage to ecology.
“The unique design of our wind turbine addresses all these challenges head on. We believe that one day its use could be as widespread and commonplace as solar panels.”
Earlier this month, researchers demonstrated a new beam-steering antenna that increases the efficiency of data transmission, allowing speeds beyond those achievable with current 5G technologies.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.