The widespread adoption of solar and wind technology in Europe is the main impetus for Motorola's recent investment in eco-friendly energy sources as a way to power base stations, said Richard Martin, the company's U.K.-based networks and enterprise marketing manager for GSM solutions.

Because of the extensive use of solar and wind technology in Europe, the capital necessary to invest in such systems has decreased, Martin said. So Motorola teamed with Briston, Bath and Surrey Universities in the U.K. to develop a power system capable of converting wind turbine and solar radiation into enough energy to drive a mid-sized base station.

Potential solutions were tested at the company's Swindon, England, facility. Tests showed solar and wind turbine systems could generate up to 1200 W of power in a continual cycle, resulting in enough power to operate a mid-sized base station and support a microwave-backhaul installation.

These technologies offer an environmental benefit, Martin said, because they allow users to reduce their reliance on diesel fuel-burning generators that are commonly used to power base stations and other technologies, particularly located in remote environments that are unable to tap into the commercial power grid.

Security also is a concern for rural operators, which often discover generators missing from worksites. A wind turbine and solar panel would be more challenging to steal, Martin said.

“Diesel and generators are very tradable commodities in third-world nations,” he said. “And in many cases, because of the remoteness of the area, [they] are vulnerable to theft.”

Motorola relies on third-party vendors for the wind turbines and solar panels. However, Motorola installs the systems, defines the dimensions needed to power them and configures them to run at low-power consumption.

Although the technology is still in the research-and-design stage, Motorola already has staked out sites in Africa and Asia as possible prototype locations to further develop the technology. The company also is considering fuel cells as a potential technology, as well as pico-hydro systems that capture rainfall and — using a special type of turbine generator — generate off-the-grid hydroelectric technology that creates electricity for remote villages in rainforest regions, Martin said.

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Antennas, base stations, towers vendors

Allied Tower ▪ Andrew Corp. ▪ Antenex ▪ Astron Wireless Technologies ▪ Antenna Products Corp. ▪ Berkeley Varitronics Systems ▪ Bird Electronic Corp. ▪ Comprod Communications ▪ Daniels Electronics ▪ Dataradio Corp. ▪ Dekolink Wireless ▪ Digital Dispatch ▪ Durham Communications ▪ DX Radio Systems ▪ EFJohnson ▪ EMR Corp. ▪ EnGenius Technologies ▪ Fort Worth Tower ▪ Icom America ▪ Kathrein ▪ KR Nida Communications ▪ M/A-COM ▪ PCTEL Antenna Products ▪ Thales Communications ▪ Radiall-Larsen Antenna ▪ Ritron ▪ Sabre Communications ▪ Sinclair Technologies ▪ Tait Electronics North America ▪ Telewave ▪ Tower Solutions ▪ Vertex Standard ▪ For complete listings of antennas, base stations and towers vendors, visit the MRT 2007 Resource Guide at www.mrtmag.com.