Telecom Power Supply

For more than a decade already, Nedstack fuel cell stacks have been used to power telecom stations worldwide. Our stacks are used by customers to build fuel cell systems that power these stations, such as BTS towers. These fuel cell systems provide either continuous power supply, especially in remote areas without grid, or back up power in areas with an unreliable grid.

Telecom Continuous Power
Telecom base stations in remote areas have to operate with an unreliable power grid, or even without a grid at all. Currently, off-grid stations are mostly powered by generators, running on diesel or petrol. Most telecom infrastructure companies are looking for alternatives to avoid the high investment, high maintenance and fuel costs. PEM fuel cell systems are the answer.

Backup Power
Backup power systems for Telecoms, Utilities and Railways are used to power electronic systems during grid power outages. Telecom companies, Utilities and Railways need to be able to rely on their backup systems. Until now battery packs (in combination with diesel generators) have been the most common solution to bridge temporary grid failures. Now, a better alternative is available: Nedstack PEM fuel cell powered backup systems.

Our XXL and HP stack platforms, respectively offer the perfect fit to these ends.

  • (semi-) Continuous power supply: our XXL stack platform offers high reliability and very long lifetime to minimize maintenance and servicing in remote areas requiring many operating hours per day. Hydrogen is typically supplied by (methanol) reformers or electrolyzers powered by renewable energy resulting in completely autonomous systems.
  • Back-up power supply: our HP stack platform allows fast and reliable ramp up in case of an occasional grid power outage. Total operating time per year is typically limited below 1000 hours.

With Nedstack fuel cell stacks you will profit from the following advantages:

High Reliablility
First and foremost, Nedstack PEM fuel cells are highly reliable. This means that in case of a grid power outage, your systems will continue to work, powered by our fuel cells. With the help of only a small battery, PEM fuel cells deliver instant start-up. They will continue to work as long as the hydrogen supply lasts. This supports the customer satisfaction you are aiming for, and it helps you avoid non-compliance penalties. Currently, thousands of fuel cell stacks have been supplied for commercial operations worldwide, both for back up and primary power applications. Some of these systems are turned on for short periods of time each and every day. This demonstrates the high reliability, efficiency, flexibility and long lifespan of Nedstack fuel cells.

Low total cost of ownership
Despite their higher CapEx, telecom power systems with Nedstack fuel cell stacks offer a lower cost of ownership than the traditional options. And isn’t it this total lifetime cost that actually counts? PEM fuel cells offer the following operational benefits, resulting in lower operational costs (OpEx):

  • Fuel efficiency. PEM fuel cells operate at over 50% fuel efficiency, compared to a maximum of 35% fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines. In addition, Nedstack stacks operate at atmospheric pressure minimizing parasitic system losses from the balance of plant components and maximizing overall system efficiency.
  • Fuel flexibility. PEM fuel stack systems can be made to operate on a wide range of fuels, enabling them to operate on the most cost efficient fuel available at your location.
  • Low system costs. Nedstack fuel cells are easy to integrate and offer low system component cost due to the efficient water cooling and operation at ambient pressure.
  • Low maintenance costs. Nedstack fuel cells are virtually maintenance free, other then the occasional replacement of air filters. Fuel cells have no moving parts that can break down or need to be replaced, unlike diesel generators. While battery life is unpredictable and therefore batteries need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years, Nedstack fuel cells offer long-term reliable outputs. Nedstack fuel cells can be equipped with an integrated cell voltage monitoring (CVM) system. The CVM system allows an operator to remotely check the stack status in detail, so surprises are avoided.
  • Easy cooling. Nedstack PEM fuel cells are water cooled, the output water of around 70 °C is easy to handle. As the fuel cell systems can operate at an electrical efficiency of around 50%, the amount of heat is comparable to the electric power generated. Water cooled stacks are more robust than air cooled ones, as they are less sensitive to air contamination and can be operated at higher ambient temperatures. In addition the water cooling system can be built more compact and cheaper then air cooling systems at FC power output levels of above 1.5kW
  • Little risk of theft. Because of the expertise required to operate the systems, fuel cells and their fuel are less likely to be stolen than generators, diesel fuel, and batteries.
  • Limited space requirements. You will always find space to house a PEM fuel cell system. They operate both indoors and outdoors in a wide range of climates. They can be made very compact. A system (excluding hydrogen storage) can be placed in a standard 19” rack.

Fuel cell systems for (semi-)continuous power compared to diesel gensets:

Fuel Efficiency
Most telecom base stations require below 10 kW power. Most diesel gen-sets run very inefficiently at these loads. Nedstack fuel cells can be configured to operate efficiently between 1 and 10kW. If more power is required, it only requires additional stacks. Compared to conventional gen-sets Nedstack fuel cells have far higher fuel to electricity conversion efficiency requiring less fuel for the same amount of output energy. Higher fuel efficiency means lower fuel costs, and less frequent refueling visits.

Fuel flexibility
Using a fuel specific reformer, PEM fuel stack systems can be made to operate on a wide range of fuels. Examples include methanol, ethanol and ammonia. Alternatively electrolyzers powered by renewable energy can be used, resulting in completely autonomous systems.This enables the operator to choose the most cost efficient fuel that is locally available. It is important to realize that some hydrogen carriers, like liquid methanol and ammonia, contain more hydrogen per m3 than liquid hydrogen.

Environmental sustainability
PEM fuel cells convert hydrogen into energy, with pure water as their only by-product. Depending on the way the hydrogen is produced, our fuel cells have very low to zero emission. This has obvious benefits for the planet, but it also has direct relevance for the day-to-day operations: indoor locations that are not suitable for a diesel gen-set, often can accommodate a fuel cell system. Additionally, PEM fuel cell systems have no moving parts. They do not cause vibrations or noise pollution. This has important health & safety benefits. Furthermore, Nedstack fuel cells are almost fully recyclable.

Fuel cell systems for back-up power compared to battery solutions:

Steady energy storage capacity:
For back-up power supply fuel cell systems in most cases outperform the traditional battery-based solutions. As the years pass, batteries lose their capacity to store the original rated energy. This decline in storage capacity is accelerated by the number of operating cycles and the amount of power that is withdrawn. Batteries also degrade faster due to temperature changes, which is why they should be kept in an air-conditioned space. The exact pace of degradation of batteries is neither predictable nor accurately measurable. To lower the risk of surprises batteries are preventively replaced at least every 5 years and more frequently depending on operating and risk profile. Nedstack PEM fuel cells continue to deliver steady voltage output over their full lifespan, while the energy storage is defined by the fuel tank size.

Guaranteed Autonomy:
Contrary to battery powered backup devices, a fuel cell system does not need to be recharged. It will continue to run as long as the fuel supply lasts. This also means that fuel cell systems can be easily scaled to the number of backup hours required, simply by changing the hydrogen storage size. Fuel cell systems are by far the most cost effective solution to overcome long periods of grid failure. The remaining autonomy of the system (amount of fuel) can easily be monitored by measuring the hydrogen pressure. In the case of batteries it is virtually impossible to predict the remaining amount of energy.