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How Mobile Networks Can Be 100% Powered by Renewables, USC Scientists

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348847-fastest-mobile-networks-2012When you pick up your phone to send a message, check your email, call a friend, etc. etc., do you think of how much electricity is used to power mobile networks? Apparently, the amount is huge, and what is worse, in many parts of the world this electricity is actually produced from huge, highly polluting and super expensive diesel fuel tanks.

Researchers from University of Southern California, in collaboration with Samsung, however, claim to have found a clean solution to this problem, which is essentially a model that estimates energy usage and storage.

The description of the proposed model has already been accepted for publication in one of the highly prestigious journals IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications. For now, it is purely theoretical hence it is not yet demonstrated in practice, but here is a summary of what it is and a bit of background.

It is well known that the capacity of future mobile networks will highly depend on the so-called small cells, which can be integrated virtually anywhere, solar panels, wind turbines , or in-built power sources. However, a big limitation of these cells is that renewable energy still requires back-up in order to provide constant electricity without fluctuations.

Here is the point where the model comes into play. It essentially takes into account the speed with which each cell or device collects and stores energy. It then estimates how much power is then used by the cell or device, and decides whether more cells are needed to compensate for the need of back-up. In theory, this mechanisms provides a mean to effectively use renewable energy, and suggests that it is possible for this energy to power the entire mobile network.

The team that established the model is convinced that improvements in existing renewable energy harvesting and storage technologies should not stop, but they also believe that the biggest change would come from reducing energy consumption. Their model would essentially help communities to do exactly this.

Image (c) PC

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