PowerOasis today (20 February 2012) launched two new products, SmartHub, its third generation power controller, and its Hybrid Power System. Together the products deliver a hardware and software platform designed to reduce mobile base station power costs, increase site ‘up’ time, and deliver the necessary business intelligence to efficiently manage power across a mobile network.
The new products from the Swindon, UK-based firm are designed to help wireless operators around the globe face the challenge of squeezed profit margins as a result of increasing energy costs and reduced ARPU. The demand for data services and expansion into rural areas are also driving up infrastructure costs, while the rising cost of power can account for as much as 80% of a network’s operational expenditure.
John O’Donohue, CEO at PowerOasis, told Wireless: ‘In emerging markets power consumption underpins all the other KPIs. If there is a power loss and the network goes down, all the customer experience KPIs go out the window. At one time oil was $5 a barrel; it is now $120 a barrel. Wireless network operators need to monitor and manage their power performance in the same way they manage their radio frequencies.
‘Power is becoming a top three Opex item for network operators,’ continued O’Donohue. ‘In emerging markets it is the number one Opex item, accounting for as much as 80% of operational costs, especially when operators have to supplement an unreliable grid supply with diesel powered base stations.
‘Even in the UK, if you have 20,000 mobile sites using 5-7Kw of power each, that adds up to a big power consumption overall. But it is a black art at the moment. We don’t have the knowledge to measure and manage power consumption,’ said O’Donohue. The new products are designed to supply the intelligence and power management capability remotely.
The PowerOasis SmartHub is an intelligent power controller which is located at a remote base station site. Engineered for rapid deployment in difficult environments, SmartHub is a ‘plug and play’ solution, accepting a wide array of sensors and software applications for the improved control of power.
Data received from the SmartHub by PowerOasis Manage – the network power management software accessed from a central network ‘command and control centre,’- improves network power management, and enables implementation of generator-battery hybrid power and renewable energy hybrid power. Operators can protect network investment and simplify future upgrades to wind and solar power, eliminating the need for expensive diesel powered base station generators.
Hybrid Power System
SmartHub also forms an essential element within PowerOasis’ Hybrid Power System, a cabinet based solution which provides mobile network operators with an equipment agnostic power management system. This can be plugged straight into any third party certified generator, batteries, solar panels and wind turbine allowing rapid roll out of services. The Hybrid Power System contains a PowerOasis SmartHub, along with battery, solar and wind turbine controllers plus all the necessary distribution electronics.
Chief marketing officer Ivan Harris told Wireless: ‘Customers are having to run their generators 24 hours a day sometimes, because of uncertain power supplies. With our deep cycle generator-battery you can charge it up when the power is available and then run the base station on that for 20 hours a day. You can also link it up to wind or solar power. Overall that can save you 50% in fuel costs for the generator. You can get a return on investment in just 14 weeks.
‘The SmartHub knows when power from the grid is available and activates the battery charger,’ continued Harris. ‘It is not the price of diesel that costs the customer it is the cost of delivering it to remote sites. For an operator in Bangladesh, ARPU may be no more than $2 a month – it is not economic to use diesel, so solar power stations make sense. They can power up our generator-battery five times a day and meet the coverage requirements.’
O’Donohue added: ‘Operators have to provide network assurance, but if a site has to operate off the national power grid, how do you know if your battery will work for three days say, if the grid supply goes off? Our SmartHub controller allows them to test, charge and operate the generators at their base stations. We can also cut CO2 emissions by supplementing the power supply to base stations with green energy and provide the operators with the measurements to prove it – that’s a big tick in the environmental box for them.
‘The SmartHub can also start up the generator cycle twice a day to oil the bearings. We could do this for UK hospitals, for example, as their back-up generators are rarely used and the bearings can seize up if they are not tested regularly. The SmartHub can also measure the amount of power being used.’
The technology is also useful in developed countries such as the USA, where there are many remote base stations for the country’s P25 emergency service network. The SmartHub technology can be used to monitor the base stations remotely and alert controllers if there are any problems.
‘Our product is designed to slot into the standard 19-inch racking,’ said O’Donohue, ‘so it is very easy to retrofit it into existing systems. It is supplied ready to go, so it can just be plugged in. We supply software to test everything on site and run an auto-acceptance programme to provide certainty and prove it is delivering the promised benefits.’
Working across South East Asia, Africa, and targeting Latin America, the company has recently completed a 200 site project, reducing diesel requirements by implementing generator-battery and renewable energy hybrid solutions.
Diesel consumption was reduced by 2.1m litres/annum (equating to a 60% reduction). The reduction in diesel use and reduced transportation also helps reduce CO2 emissions, in the case of this project, reducing emissions by 5.6million tonnes/annum, which is equivalent to an individual flying return between London and Tokyo.
PowerOasis SmartHub and Hybrid Power System are supported by a worldwide manufacturing, test and distribution partnership with Jabil, a $16Bn turnover organisation with more than 60 plants in 20 countries providing global low cost manufacturing. The PowerOasis SmartHub and Hybrid Power System will initially be manufacturing in Asia.