Providing renewable solutions to Europe’s tower owners

Desigenia is a leading renewable supplier in the European telecom power sector

Read this article to learn:

  • Who are Desigenia and who do they work for?
  • How can renewables support off grid sites
  • The role of renewables in supporting 5G sites
  • The modularity of Desigenia’s solutions

Desigenia is a Spanish company dedicated to the design and implementation of solutions based on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Telecommunications is one of their key markets and they already work with several global towercos and MNOs. Their work focuses on the development of customised solutions that improve energy efficiency and savings for their customers. TowerXchange spoke with Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication to find out how he sees renewables being deployed in European telecom networks.

TowerXchange: Please can you introduce Desigenia to TowerXchange readers? Who are some of the companies that you currently work with?

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: Desigenia is a company specialised in energy solutions and energy efficiency for the telecommunications sector. We take care of turnkey projects for energy systems with photovoltaic and/or wind, batteries and diesel or gas generators. With new business modalities, such as the energy as a service (EaaS) model, we offer a comprehensive energy service, allowing network operators and telecommunications infrastructure managers to improve their service, guarantee its quality and increase their off-grid locations network without large investment costs, in addition to reducing risks related to grid maintenance and network inefficiency.

We work with mobile networks operators and towercos as Cellnex, Telefónica, Telxius, Vodafone, Vantage Towers, Orange and Altan Redes, among others. With them we have installed hybrid photovoltaic energy systems in different off grid locations in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. Our renewable energy systems have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 13,500 tons annually, the equivalent of planting more than 100,000 trees.

TowerXchange: How have you seen the attitudes towards going green change in the telecoms space change over the years and do you see marked differences geographically?

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: The company has a goal, of reducing the world’s carbon footprint and CO2 emissions and to change industry’s mentality from a reliance on traditional systems towards the use of more energy efficient and less polluting hybrid renewable systems. Change is happening, for example in Europe the project “Horizon 2030” favours that new mentality.

TowerXchange: The price point of renewables continues to come down. In the European market, do you think that renewables can provide a cost-effective alternative/addition to grid power in the telecoms space or does renewables adoption still need to be primarily driven by ESG agendas? Do you see renewables mainly as a solution for replacing generators in off-grid areas or does the technology have a role to play in helping to meet the increased power demands of 5G networks on grid connected sites?

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: The declining price of renewables will help, but prime in the agendas ESG and the goals of the companies.

Of course, we have off-grid sites that use diesel generators to supply power 24/7/265. At those sites we can replace the traditional energy system for a more efficient renewable solution which also pollutes less. For example, by installing a hybrid photovoltaic system, instead of a traditional one, we eliminate 14,500 litres of diesel per year. Clearly it is a highly efficient solution, and also favours a reduction of risk, and network problems.

On the other hand, technology has a fundamental role to play in meeting the growing demand of 5G. 5G sites will increase energy demand and where grid connections are at capacity on-site photovoltaic systems that reduce energy consumption from the grid can help make 5G work.

TowerXchange: Space constraints are often a limitation with the deployment of renewables – can you explain some of the ways that Desigenia is working to support towercos and operators to bring renewables to sites where space is restricted?

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: Space restriction at the base of telecommunication sites have been a problem for many installations of hybrid systems. Similarly, there are also difficulties in accessing some sites by foot, by boat or across mountains with 4×4 or helicopters. Desigenia has development different solutions for each scenario.

Our design principals allow us to create and install systems in difficult to reach locations with small footprints. Portable containers which are easy to transport and install directly on site allow us to simplify installation. Desigenia has installed hybrid distributed systems in locations with little space by using outdoor cabinets to house batteries and equipment with anti-theft measures connected to solar panels. These are modular systems that can be adapted to the space and be increased in case it is necessary or more space becomes available.

TowerXchange: Scalability of systems is important, particularly for towercos who are focussed on driving up the tenancy ratios of sites – how readily scalable are Desigenia’s systems?

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: All our systems are scalable since they have enough space inside the container to house more batteries or the possibility of increasing the size of the solar panels with self-supporting structures.

In terms of space for telecommunications equipment, the container has several racks to house them and a multi-operator power panel, which allows the towerco to supply power to several operators knowing exactly their consumption and billing according to the power. In addition, the multi-operator panel allows power supply of up to four different operators.

TowerXchange: Monitoring and management is a key element in optimising energy efficiency and ensuring site uptime, can you speak about lessons learned in this field

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: Monitoring is key to the efficiency of any energy system. It is necessary to know the real state of all the components of the system, to analyse them and to schedule preventive maintenance and anticipate possible incidents. This control allows for a reduction in the number of incidents since the operation and maintenance service can know the status of their batteries, the power consumed in real time, the power generated by the solar panels, the operating hours of the generators, refuelling, breakdowns, temperature, et cetera. With the monitoring and management system, all sites can be controlled remotely, allowing the entire network to be controlled to reduce operating and maintenance costs.

In periodic reports created by our operation and maintenance technicians and sent to our customers, we have observed a drastic reduction in the number of incidents, compared to traditional energy systems, as well as an improvements in reliability, reduced network drops and energy consumption, all thanks to the control and monitoring of the sites.

TowerXchange: What trends do you see in the future for the powering of mobile network sites

Jury Reina Aguilar, Head of Marketing and Communication, Desigenia: Edge computing and fibre optic are the most important developments in the short and medium term.

Powering the infrastructure for edge computing is a short-medium term objective for Desigenia. Telecommunication companies are seeking to improve their connectivity and the reach of theirs networks and will be implementing new technologies in this field.

Similarly, in the short term, the power systems for fibre optic deployments is growing in importance. Customers are demanding an immediacy of service which requires infrastructure for fibre optic distribution, modular systems, containers for FTTH nodes or distribution cabinets that allow reaching more locations and improving the quality of fibre optic infrastructure. In this regard, Desigenia has been the main awardee in Telefónica’s Beethoven project for the deployment of containers for FTTH nodes with a neutral fibre optic network in rural and semi-rural areas of Germany, through which Desigenia and Telefonica will be able to reach more than two million homes in small cities .

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