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Alternative power source at towers to save operators 30% of OPEX

By Chike Onwuegbuchi
26 August 2016   |   3:32 am
The installation of solar power system at telecommunications towers as alternative power source to national grid is expected to save operators some 30 percent ...


The installation of solar power system at telecommunications towers as alternative power source to national grid is expected to save operators some 30 percent in their operational expenditure (OPEX).

Worried by high cost of maintenance of generators at towers in the country, tower operators have commenced installation of solar system as alternative power supply to base stations in their towers estimated to cost them some N7.2billion when 20, 000 towers earmarked for the upgrade have been covered.

A breakdown of the cost implication as it is being executed for one of the operators revealed that installation of the solar panel cost between N200, 000 to N350, 000 depending on the capacity of the tower as some tower houses more base stations than others.

More so, the batteries and other accessories cost N70,000 while the solar panel unit for each tower goes for between N40,000 and N50,000.

A staff of a major tower operator in the country who is in-charge of maintenance of towers, but does not want his name in print told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that when the ongoing installation of solar power system at towers are completed, it will save operators of such towers some 30 percent of their operational cost not capital expenditure.

Reacting to this development, David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, said that the move by operators of telecommunications towers to install solar system is a good idea which will saved them cost on diesel even as the initial cost on procurement and installation is capital intensive.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek had reported that tower operators spend some N175million every day on diesel which is used to power generators at their towers housing base transceiver stations (BTS).

Venn added that the major causes of downtime at towers revolve around generators, ‘it is either thieves stole diesel or generators at the towers have one problem or the other. The modern system of powering base stations now is with solar system using generators as back-up or for charging batteries of the solar system.’

“Solar system at towers will make a big difference in terms of reliability and operational saving for tower operators, but not for us that hire the towers from them. However, it takes between 4 and 5 years before the saving can pay back the initial investment for the upgrade,” he said.

Satish Kumar, chief operating officer, Direct On Data, said that everything depends on maintenance of the system, he decried lackasadical attitude of tower operators in maintenance of power supply systems.

“I experience operational downtime of our system they are managing every 15 days which cost us over N5million in Abuja. As a result of this, we had to add rectifier with battery to savage the situation,” he said.

He said: “In Nigeria, the problem is not introduction of new technology, but maintenance of that technology. There is physical element in the introduction of new technology which are often times not well handled”.

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