February 12, 2021: A report released on February 9 by the market intelligence firm Guidehouse Insights (formerly Navigant Research) has identified telecoms as a growing potential for lead-acid batteries, as well as other battery chemistries, in the distributed energy storage market.
The report says technologies expected to be adopted include fuel cells, solar PV and battery-based UPS systems incorporating all kinds of advanced batteries, such as lead-acid.
The report, Market Data: Distributed Generation and Energy Storage in Telecom Networks, says the world is changing in the way people work, socialize and communicate, with almost three in four people expected to regularly access the Internet on their mobile phones by 2025.
But while the exponential growth in mobile data traffic should deliver an economic boost, empowering all socio-economic classes, “stakeholders are increasingly concerned with the effect this exponential increase in data traffic will have on the energy consumption and carbon footprint of mobile networks”.
The report says that telecommunications operators already account for 2%-3% of total energy demand — making them some of the most energy-intensive companies in their geographic markets.
“With more than 90% of network cost spent on energy, consisting mostly of fuel and electricity, the demand for energy-saving measures from telecom operators is growing,” says the report.
“Telecom operators increasingly deploy distributed renewable energy generation technologies and distributed energy storage systems to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of mobile networks.
“Such decisions are driven by a low revenue-growth environment, rising global electricity prices, and LTE and 5G upgrades in emerging and developed markets, which are anticipated to more than triple electricity consumption.”
“Lead-acid batteries are proven as a back-up solution for the telecoms sector, with a high percentage of the market share for such installations,” said Anssi Laitinen, senior director, Product Marketing, with lead battery maker EnerSys.
“This popularity is due to a combination of reliability and durability, and their capability to act as a passive or active component within back-up power applications. The capability to support high cycles, very long operating lifetimes and high operating temperatures is an additional strength.
“These technical attributes make lead-acid batteries highly dependable, and therefore particularly suited to the demands of distributed energy networks.”
Jason Koffler, CEO of the UK battery supplier Critical Power Supplies, says the cost element is a major reason why lead batteries are still the number one choice for UPS, but they do need to be maintained and that is something customers do not always appreciate.
“The total cost of ownership is two and a half times as much as for a lithium-ion battery,” he said. “There’s no question a lead battery is better than a lithium one, but you do need a high-end battery that does what it’s supposed to.”
Koffler also believes that the choice of batteries could be a generational issue, with younger businesses more likely to choose newer technologies.