Stulz: Optimising energy through next-gen cooling solutions

Commercial cooling units just aren’t cutting it in today’s energy landscape

Stulz

Read this article to learn:

  • The history of Stulz’s involvement in the telecoms industry
  • Top tips for operators and towercos when they are thinking about implementing cooling systems
  • How free cooling is driving energy efficiency and sustainability
  • How battery lifecycles can be extended through optimising operating environments

One area of optimising energy efficiency on telecom tower sites that can sometimes be overlooked is the importance of having the right cooling system in place. For a relatively low CAPEX investment, towercos and operators can optimise the operating conditions of their energy equipment and extend lifecycles while simultaneously increasing efficiency. With this in mind, TowerXchange has invited Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager for EMEA Telecoms at Stulz to share his insights and experience helping towercos and operators do just that.

Ole will also join TowerXchange at our Meetup Africa event – (5-7 October online, 12-13 October, Dubai) to discuss this topic in more detail.

TowerXchange: Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and Stulz as a company?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: My Pleasure! I’ve been with Stulz for over ten years now in different positions in sales and marketing. I work with a team of colleagues who are spread all over the EMEA region and our main focus is to provide the customers in the telecom vertical with failsafe and efficient cooling solutions for the radio access, edge and core networks.

Stulz is a successful family run business that has been operating for 75 years, with headquarters in Germany. We were one of the first specialists in data centre cooling, and today one of the world’s leading suppliers of cooling systems for mission critical applications.

We engaged in the telecom vertical alongside the upcoming of the first operators in 1995, but mainly in data centre applications. Then in 2000, the foundation of Stulz SPA (an Italian production facility) meant we had access to the technology and production capabilities to enter the radio access markets with specialised products that could be used in telecom shelters and other situations.

There’s a big difference in the business models of towercos, who we are now working with as well. I think back in those days the operators needed to run networks that could quickly expand and had greater penetration than their competitors. The business of the towerco right now is totally different. It’s more about offering a high quality network at an economic price. I also expect that the telecom companies won’t be the only users of the radio access network in the future, so I think that will cause another large shift in the business models.

TowerXchange: With so much experience, what are some of your top tips for operators and towercos when they are thinking about implementing cooling systems?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: Generally, we believe that the total cost of ownership of a cooling system over its entire life service should always be taken into account. Considering this gives the customer the best operating results in terms of reliability and energy efficiency in the long term. I always strongly suggest moving away from a short-term CAPEX decision and tend to suggest a more long term sustainable solution.

In my opinion this is the key to energy efficiency and profitable operations in the network. Energy efficiency and sustainability are more important to towercos now than they ever have been.

TowerXchange: Why else is cooling becoming important now more than ever?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: I would say 5G rollouts are the third main contributing factor beyond sustainability targets and energy efficiency. 5G is going to bring with it wave of new technology, and a switch to equipment which has a much tighter operation envelope. This needs to be considered, especially when thinking about precision in the HVAC equipment. 5G is far more energy efficient than 4G which is a step in the right direction when it comes to reaching a sustainable future.

But its important to consider that cooling has always been unaccounted for when it comes to energy consumption, which means there are huge potential energy savings to unlock. If you strive to run an efficient network, cooling, sustainability and lower total cost of ownership for the customer all go hand in hand.

TowerXchange: Can you tell us a little more about why having the right cooling system in place can unlock these benefits?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: I think that idea of having the right cooling in place is important. Your cooling systems need to be mission critical, fail safe, and guarantee continuous operation all year long. Looking into the details, precision climate control creates an operating condition that the client’s specific equipment performs best in.

We have an emphasis on free cooling, which harnesses the lower outdoor temperatures whenever possible and reduce the compressor operation as much as possible. There are various ways to set this up, and we are flexible to meet the requirements of the customer and the specific site. It lends itself to some countries and regions more than others – There are very few countries in the EMEA region where there is no free cooling potential that can decrease energy usage and cost per site. This applies both to new constructions and retrofitting in exiting telecom shelters.

Estimates assume that we have around 1.2 million telecom shelters. I think we can assume that 60-70% of these are still fitted with commercial solutions. We’ve engaged in projects in thousands of sites, and have evidence that we can reduce energy consumption by 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa, to 90-95% in Europe. With these savings, you are able to pay off the Capex of the solution in less than one year.

The easiest thing for tower operators to do is retrofit their existing pure direct expansion (DX) systems if they want to reduce energy costs. For how difficult it is versus the reward, it really is low hanging fruit when it comes to efficiency and carbon reduction.

TowerXchange: Tower operators are changing their approach to what batteries they are using and are looking to extend battery lifecycles. How are you helping with this?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: Premature replacement and disposal of batteries, regardless of their type, is incompatible with sustainability and environmental targets, and with running an efficient and cost-effective network.

One of the main reasons for premature replacement is the operation of the batteries at temperatures that are too high for them – especially when they are fully charged. This significantly shortens the lifetime of the battery. So, with proper temperature management and monitoring of these batteries, a large part of the manufacturers’ specifications regarding lifetime can be achieved.

The challenge is often that the optimum temperature for the batteries might not be the same as the optimum temperature for the other equipment.

TowerXchange: Where do you see Stulz adding value to the telecoms market in the future?

Ole Zinck, Key Account Manager, EMEA Telecoms: The most important thing for me is looking for win-win situations. I want to find out how we can win as a supplier, how operators can win by having a more efficient network, and how the environment can win through decreased energy consumption. We were pioneers in the data centre cooling landscape, and huge strides have been made here to reduce energy waste.

I think the same attention has not been applied to radio access networks, if you compare the metrics of the two. So that is a huge focus for us. Thankfully the retrofit costs are low enough that the break even point on the initial expenditure comes pretty quickly.

The other low hanging fruit is in edge infrastructure. We want to be there to help create efficient networks and systems from the day of implementation. Ultimately our hope is to deliver energy efficient cooling solutions access, edge and core networks with free cooling can help to shift into motion a collective goal to drive performance benefits, reduced operating costs and environmental sustainability.

To learn more about Stulz make sure to book a meeting with them at TowerXchange Meetup Africa 2021 – (5-7 October online, 12-13 October, Dubai)

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