Motorola wants the entire world to have a cell phone. And if that means building cell towers in the middle of rural Africa, then that's what they'll do. Unfortunately, many of these places are far off the beaten track...and the electrical grid. And trucking in fuel would be prohibitively expensive not to mention wasteful.
So Motorola has begun to build wind and solar powered cell towers in Africa. The pilot projects, which we discussed a while ago, have been declared a success, and they're looking for more sites to expand the program. It seems to me like this could only work very well in pretty specific areas though. The towers would have to be located in areas where:
- There is plenty of wind and solar to keep the batteries charged
- The landscape is flat, allowing for a large area to be covered
- Population densities are low, so that the tower doesn't need too much power to service everyone
- The people being served are not going to revolt if service goes out on still, cloudy days
- Grid power is unavailable
Rural Africa seems to be the perfect place for these towers. Unfortunately, they might not find much of a niche in the rest of the world.
written by campbell, April 15, 2008
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