Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SPRINT-funded project to cut cost of diesel generation for powering mobile phone towers

Published: 27 April 2020
Global tower
The Southampton-GTS project will help define the business case for renewable energy for phone towers

Global Tower Solutions (GTS) has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to work with the University of Southampton to finalise a project that will help to reduce pollution from mobile phone tower energy production facilities.

GTS will work with SPRINT partner Southampton to develop a solution that will enable global telecoms network operators to power existing and future mobile phone towers using renewable energy. The solution is estimated to cost around half that of existing diesel generators.

London-based GTS focuses on delivering off-grid energy solutions to the mobile telecom tower industry. The University of Southampton will provide GTS with cutting-edge research and expertise including Earth observation science, computer vision, artificial intelligence, smart energy systems and machine learning techniques. This will include investigating the use of multi-source Earth observation data, and AI and Machine Learning algorithms to process large amounts of data to determine the demand for, and costs associated with mobile phone towers in developing countries.

The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

The SPRINT project will lead to improved access to mobile communication services in targeted developing countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile communication has been shown to be a key factor in relieving poverty by providing access to information and financial services that drive trade, education, reduction in poverty and better health. The project will also lead to the reduced use of diesel and improved sustainability of small businesses that underpin developing economies.

Professor Gopal Ramchurn, Director, Centre for Machine Intelligence at the University of Southampton added: “Mobile phone towers make a significant contribution to CO2 emissions and Global Tower Solutions is looking to decrease carbon emissions through a reduction in diesel powered mobile phone towers.

“Through the SPRINT project, the University will apply machine learning techniques to high- and low-resolution datasets, drone imagery, census data, data from satellite images and other data available around settlements. This will help to define the business case for renewable energy for phone towers which can then be delivered to mobile phone operators to identify the most appropriate renewable energy sources and which regions need mobile communications the most.”

Mark Eastwood, Chief Executive Officer of Global Tower Solutions said: “The renewable energy market has evolved over last 10-12 years and we set the company up 3-4 years ago with the aim of moving from diesel generation towards solar power and storage. We wanted to remove the diesel generation price point using sustainable, non-polluting storage solutions, particularly in emerging markets.

“The SPRINT project will help us to explore the impact of renewable generating assets on both telco tower businesses and local communities, using business insights from datasets. Working with the University of Southampton, we can access expertise that can support us in high precision localised intelligence including valuable business insights, topological mapping, individual patterns of usage and movement of local population.”

Privacy Settings