Feasibility of Solar Powered Base Station
Funding: Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher
Sigfox Ireland owns and operates the national Sigfox 0G Network, dedicated to the Internet of Things. The 0G Network, powered by Sigfox technology, is a global telecommunications network connecting objects, sensors & ‘things’ that require very low amounts of bandwidth and data. The Sigfox network in Ireland covers 97% of the population and 94% of the land mass. In Ireland the Sigfox network has been rolled out in partnership with the State broadcaster for TV and Radio; RTE Transmission Networks. RTE are in fact that largest shareholder in Sigfox Ireland.
Sigfox Ireland provide a global, simple, cost efficient and low power wide area network (LPWAN) connectivity solution for connected objects, sensors, and devices.
Problem to be Solved
Sigfox Ireland currently have nationwide coverage in Ireland using mains powered base station sites throughout the country. The aim of the work carried out by WiSAR Lab was to investigate the feasibility of developing a solar powered Sigfox base station, for continuous deployment in remote, off-grid locations.
Funded by an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, WiSAR began with a full technical review of the proposition, including a detailed study into the potential of solar energy capacity in differing locations throughout the year. As expected, the range of solar energy available in northern locations such as Ireland, varies significantly through the seasons.
The next step was to determine the energy requirement of the Sigfox hardware. Two different Sigfox base stations were tested, a small micro station and the full power base station.
With the approximate energy requirements scoped out, the PV panel size and storage battery capacity required throughout the year for various locations were determined. The selection of other hardware components such as the battery type and charge controller were also identified, and recommendations compiled into a client report.
The final stage of the project was to source and purchase the various components to construct and test a basic proof of concept remote solar powered Sigfox base station. The setup was deployed with a cellular backhaul and remained operational throughout the winter months in Ireland.
Impact and Benefits
Following the investigation, the company, Sigfox Ireland, have received a full report detailing the approach and limiting factors of using solar power as the sole energy source for off-grid systems.
The development of a prototype and subsequent testing, validated the calculations presented in the report, providing the client with confidence in their concept. The work also identified the physical structural specifications needed to mount solar PV’s and to protect the hardware components such as batteries and charge controllers, from the elements.
On the basis of this work, Sigfox Ireland will identify an off-grid location, develop a more robust mounting system, and deploy longer-term testing.
“At Sigfox Ireland, innovation is at the heart of what we do, and we are always looking for ways to improve our efficiency by adopting the newest technologies.
Our collaboration with WiSAR, enabled us to scope out the feasibility of adopting a portable energy efficient solution for our base stations, validating both the concept and the approach. This project will assist with our plans to integrate our technology with the latest smart energy innovations.”