Econet is moving the power backup for their base stations to Tesla’s Powerwall 2 fleet of Li-ion batteries. The batteries were being trialled for the past 12 months and now a decision has been made to adopt the backup on a wider scale.
The initial phase of this project will see Econet deploy 520 Powerwall’s at 260 of their sites. According to Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai, “each site will benefit from much improved battery autonomy, with two Powerwalls giving 27 kWh of usable energy. This configuration will provide at least 8 hours of backup power at each site, as each site has an average load of just over 3 kW.”
The installation of the batteries will be done by DPA as expected. Distributed Power Africa is said to have a partnership with Tesla who are keen on expanding their reach in Africa.
The first shipment is said to have already arrived with a 150 Powerwalls. Hopefully this new backup solution will improve the network which has been of a lower quality recently, due to the country-wide load shedding taking place now and for the foreseeable future.
The fact that base stations were relying on diesel wasn’t inspiring much hope either since there has been a fuel crisis for over half a year now. Whether this deployment saves costs will be another thing but it will definitely make it easier for Econet to project their costs as they won’t have to contend with ever increasing fuel prices.
Remeredzai Kuhudzai who was also a business development consultant at Econet Power noted that the faster charging times of these batteries along with anti-theft measures:
With Li-ion batteries having the advantage of faster charging times, the projects will allow for the batteries to be topped up completely from solar and during the time when the power from the grid is available. Doing so, without these fast charging times, would have been a challenge with traditional deep-cycle lead-acid batteries typically used in the telco space.
…Tesla Powerwalls feature integrated battery inverters and smart controls via the Tesla Energy Gateway, which will also solve one of the biggest issues facing telecoms firms in Sub Saharan Africa, battery theft.