Alternative Rural Off-Grid Energy Solutions for Cellular Base Stations Will Dethrone Diesel by 2024

22 Jan 2020

Off-grid energy solutions are facing mounting tailwinds as mobile operators pick up the pace in network densification. Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research estimates a US$5.8 billion market for rural off-grid energy solutions by 2024.

The looming expansion of cell sites in remote areas would challenge the reign of diesel generators as the go-to choice of energy supply for mobile operators.

“The negative environmental impact and operational inefficiencies of diesel generators are substantial drawbacks,” explains Miguel Castaneda, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. “Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), such as Vodafone, have recognized the importance of transitioning away from diesel generators and employing alternative energy solutions that strike a balance between profitability and environmental sustainability.”

It is estimated that from 2019 to 2024, revenues across the prominent alternative energy solutions of fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries, and solar panels will experience an average compound annual growth rate of 11.2%. The rural energy market has seen some innovative solutions (from both established players and new entrants) that address the environmental sustainability and operational costs of rural energy deployments – solutions that have the potential to dethrone diesel generator adoption.

“Companies like GenCell and Incell International are offering novel solutions that greatly improve the energy efficiencies and environmental sustainability of cell sites. At the same time, the rise of Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) such as Powidian and OMC Power give MNOs the convenience of simplifying their energy solution investments to predictable operational expenses,” says Jake Saunders, Vice President at ABI Research.

It would be remiss, however, to assume the hasty demotion of diesel generators as the favored source of off-grid energy amongst operators. “The impetus for MNOs to shift away from diesel generator usage would still ultimately depend on just how big an upgrade alternative energy solutions can bring to the table and if these improvements are compelling enough to change the status quo,” Castaneda concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Rural Off-Grid Energy Supply Solutions Application Analysis report. This report is part of the company’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis of key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.

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