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tower site conditions
Cambridge Clean Energy
Tower Site Conditions
Cell tower sites must have a constant and reliable power source to assure 99.9% power availability. Sources of power will vary depending on the location (urban, rural) of the cell tower site and the region of the world that the tower is located.
Unreliable Grid Power – “BAD-GRID”

Typical in developing regions of the world

No Grid Power – “OFF-GRID”

Typical in developing regions of the world

Description In much of the developing regions of the world, such as many countries of Africa, India, & Latin America, there is typically a grid power system available, but in many cases it is unreliable. CCE labels this site condition as “Bad-Grid” because the grid power is available but very unreliable, erratic and consistently demonstrates blackouts (total power outages) or brownout (fluctuating voltage, loss of phases) conditions. These types of grid conditions usually make it very difficult for mobile network operators to rely on grid power as the primary source of power. However, in most cases, as it is less expensive than the alternative power source (Diesel Generators), the power grid remains as the primary source of power. Off-Grid simply means there is no AC Mains or Grid Power available in the region. Although such conditions can be found in many rural locations throughout the world, the majority of Off-Grid cell tower sites are located in the developing regions. For example, it is estimated that more than 80% of the African continent does not have access to Grid Power, therefore many sites in African countries are “Off-grid” sites relying on diesel generators as their primary source of power.
Primary Power Supply AC Mains or Grid Power 2 Diesel Generators, alternating in use
Secondary Power Supply Diesel Generator Battery Backup System (UPS)
Backup Power Supply Battery Backup System (UPS) -
Power Description In these parts of the world, similar to the example of reliable grid power, the site is powered by the Grid, however an event such as a blackout or brownout, is HIGHLY likely and very frequent. In many cases, the grid will fluctuate in voltage or loss of phases every 1-2 hours, resulting in the site starting the generator and will rely on the power from the generator until the power from the Grid resumes. However, as the grid power fluctuations are so frequent, in many cases the generator will power the site 18-24 hours per day. Also, the battery backup system on site will very likely be drained due to frequent use and lack of maintenance. In the Off-Grid scenario, there is no grid available, therefore the site is powered 24/7 by diesel generators. Typically, there are 2 generators, alternating in use every 12 hours and a battery backup system in the event that both generators failed.
Operating Costs Bad-Grid Sites typically carry medium to high operating expenses depending on how much they rely on the diesel generators to power the sites as opposed to the Grid. Costs include diesel, transportation of diesel to remote regions, maintenance of the generator every 250 hours and the labor, transport and the associated materials.

$10,000 – $80,000 per site per year
Off-Grid Sites typically carry the highest operating expenses as they rely on diesel generators to power the sites. Costs include diesel, transportation of diesel to remote regions, maintenance of the generator every 250 hours (every 10 days) and the labor, transport and material costs associated with that.

$40,000 – $150,000 per site per year