Photo courtesy of mtoreceptive at Flickr.com.
In the developing world, where electric grids are less reliable, many cell phone towers have to generate their own electricity. With diesel generators, that means that energy costs can add up to 2/3 of the total maintenance costs. Theft and vandalism are also a big problem with these systems.
As a result of these high energy costs, many cellular providers in the Third World have adopted green power supplies. In addition to wind and solar power, some of these cell phone systems incorporate biodiesel.
Photo courtesy of Tirau Dan at Flickr.com.
Designers are also rethinking the traditional cell phone tower. In 2007, Ericsson introduced the Tower Tube – a self contained concrete tower that has less visual impact and a smaller carbon footprint. Since they use concrete instead of a steel structure, and have no need for a perimeter fence, these towers release approximately 20% less CO2 than conventional towers. Other companies are getting rid of cell towers entirely by using trees!
If you look closely, the cell towers near your house may already be using solar or wind backup power supplies. Here’s an example of a solar panel that powers weather monitoring equipment on a cell tower.