CETIN tests solar power supply for its base stations

CETIN Hungary is constantly looking for innovative solutions to make its operations more sustainable. To this end, the company is testing the efficiency of using locally produced green energy to power its base stations in three settlements – Gyál, Dunaharaszti and Érd. 

One of Hungary's largest, neutral integrated telecommunications infrastructure service providers operates 3,900 base stations at around 4,000 sites. The company launched a test program in September of 2022 to investigate how efficiently and to what extent solar power can meet electricity needs. 

A Greener Path for Telecom Operations 

CETIN is committed to modern, efficient and high-availability technologies to support the protection of our environment. Our goal is to find sustainable solutions for the energy efficiency of our mobile telecommunications network infrastructure in the long term. Therefore, we started operational testing of solar systems in three of our Hungarian base stations.  

The six-months pilot projects tested the installation of photovoltaic solar systems under real conditions in several different configurations, monitoring the authorization procedure, electricity savings and possible deployment methods and applications. The results of the pilot will be used to decide on a sustainable transformation of the electricity supply with significant environmental benefits, taking into account the actual energy policy environment and incentives. 

Innovative solutions   

Solar panels basically generate direct current (DC), and telecommunication equipment at base stations also use DC. The national electricity system, the transmission grid, on the other hand, supplies alternating current (AC), and air conditioning systems for cooling base station equipment typically also use AC power. In the first base station tested, in Gyál, the solar panels directly supply the power demand of the telecommunications equipment with the DC current, so no loss materialized with the conversion of DC to AC. The system is not scaled to cover the entire demand, so the additional energy required is provided by the grid. 

At the second site in Érd, the DC energy generated was converted into AC, and is used entirely to supply the power needs of the base station, without any grid feed-back. This experiment tested what efficiency a larger system could be implemented in the future to fully supply the base station without using grid power. 

At the third station, in Dunaharaszti, the DC power generated is also converted to AC power and in this case, it was fed back into the grid – essentially it was the principle of residential solar solutions. Here, a smart power sensor was metering the amount of energy fed back into the grid. 

A more sustainable, Greener Future 

A total of 33 solar panels have been installed at the three base stations participating in the pilot program with a total expected electricity saving of nearly 18.1 MWh per year (seven times the annual energy consumption of an average Hungarian household, starting a dishwasher 9100 times or charging 1.7 million smartphones). The pilots reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 2.2 tons per year per site by harnessing green energy instead of conventional power plants.