04 Jul 2023, Blog

Why it’s time for Ontario’s telecommunications industry to go all-in on fuel cell technology

The need for reliable, high-power energy solutions that are both efficient and environmentally friendly is higher than ever.

Toronto, Ontario, is already well-established as Canada’s business and financial capital. Thanks to a strong economy, major corporate head offices and leading universities producing the next wave of talented innovators, Toronto is also emerging as a major tech hub.

This emergence is exciting, bringing new business, jobs and the promise of innovations that can improve our lives. But with major digital transformations comes a higher demand for connectivity, and that demand falls on the telecommunications industry.

Across the globe, the telecommunications industry has experienced an exponential increase in demand for high-quality, reliable and fast communication services. Increasing demand requires more towers, and 5G networks demand more power. The need for reliable, high-power energy solutions that are both efficient and environmentally friendly is higher than ever.

How EFOY fuel cells can solve telecommunication industry challenges

This is where EFOY hydrogen and methanol fuel cell systems come in.

Fuel cell technology is an alternative to traditional power sources such as diesel generators and batteries. Fuel cells produce electricity through the chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, with the by-products being water, heat and carbon dioxide for methanol fuel cell systems, and just heat and water vapour for hydrogen fuel cell systems. Hydrogen and methanol are commonly used in fuel cells, as they produce fewer emissions than fossil fuels.

One of the benefits of using hydrogen and methanol fuel cells in the telecommunications industry is their high energy density. This means fuel cells can produce more energy per unit of fuel than traditional batteries. As a result, fuel cells can provide longer run times and greater reliability for telecommunication systems.

Managing greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing network reliability

Another advantage of fuel cells is their low environmental impact. Hydrogen and methanol fuel cells produce fewer pollutants than diesel generators, making them an ideal option for powering telecommunications systems in areas with strict environmental regulations. Compared to a conventional diesel generator, a 5kW hydrogen fuel cell energy solution saves up to 45.6 tons of CO2 based on an assumed annual demand of 43,800 kilowatt hours (kWh). This savings alone corresponds to the amount of CO2 that would be produced by driving a diesel-powered car for roughly 250,000 kilometres.

Additionally, fuel cells produce less noise than traditional generators, which can be particularly important in residential or urban areas.

Fuel cells also offer a more cost-effective solution than traditional generators. Although the initial investment cost for fuel cells may be higher, fuel cells require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan than traditional generators, resulting in lower operating costs over time.

Use cases where EFOY fuel cells excel

EFOY methanol fuel cells are well-suited for low-power repeater-type applications, while EFOY hydrogen fuel cells are ideal for backup power and prime power on remote towers. These solutions can provide backup power during power outages or supplement the main power grid during peak usage times. In addition, fuel cells can be used in remote locations where traditional power sources are unavailable, making them ideal for use in rural areas or disaster-stricken regions.

Fuel cells are helping the telecommunications industry move toward a cleaner, greener future

In recent years, several telecommunication companies have begun to adopt fuel cell technology to power their systems. For example, in 2020, Verizon installed a 5G cell site powered by a hydrogen fuel cell in California. The fuel cell system provides 72 hours of backup power in the event of a power outage, ensuring uninterrupted communication services for customers.

SFC Energy’s EFOY hydrogen fuel cells are already being used for the power supply of stationary systems with high energy requirements of up to 20kW. In one example, our EFOY H₂Cabinet is relied on to maintain critical infrastructure for an Italian telecommunication provider in the event of an outage, providing at least 72 hours of operational power.

SFC Energy is a market leader in hydrogen and methanol fuel cell technologies

Focusing on a specific power range ideal for telecommunication providers, our turnkey integrated solutions have been successfully deployed globally in various applications and industries.

With higher density, lower environmental impact and lower operating costs than traditional generators, fuel cells are an ideal solution for the growing demands placed on the telecommunications industry and bring significant benefits beyond meeting growing power needs.

As the demand for reliable and sustainable energy sources increases, fuel cell technology will play a critical role in the future of our increasingly connected, digital world. With global adoption quickly increasing in the telecommunications industry and beyond, now is the time for Ontario’s industry to plan for a cleaner future.