Events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have focused attention on the availability and reliability of telecommunications services worldwide. Both wireless and wireline communications are expanding globally, so the provision of reliable, economical power is vital. Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) networks in use by emergency services, military personnel and government agencies require total system reliability during emergencies, when loss of communication would exacerbate an already critical situation. The rapid expansion of cellular networks in countries without more traditional land-based telephone systems is also demanding the provision of reliable power supplies and this market is one of the fastest growing worldwide. The choice of backup power technology for telecommunications therefore has a direct impact on the everyday life of people around the world.
Traditional solutions have included generators and batteries, but issues of maintenance, noise, pollution, size, insufficient runtime, remote monitoring difficulties and operation under extreme conditions all pose problems for these technologies. This has led to interest in fuel cell technology for this application, and fuel cell backup power units are now being installed in a number of countries.
This information sheet explains the key benefits that fuel cells can offer in this application, the fuel cell types used in the application today, and a case studies of natural disasters in the USA and grid failures in Indonesia.