Government Grant Helps Sprint To Take Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology To Rooftops

(3BL/JustMeans) Sprint will use hydrogen fuel cell technology as backup power to rooftop network sites. Rooftop cell sites are almost 25 percent of Sprint’s network locations for which fuel cell technology deployment was not considered an option—up to 30 percent of the company’s total network cell sites are on rooftops in some major metropolitan areas. The full cost of investment in the project and the amount of financial aid has not yet been determined, but is expected to be in the next two months. Financial help from the Department of Energy is supporting the company’s effort. Sprint hopes to start installing fuel cell technology by the end of 2014.
 
This is not the first time Sprint and DOE have partnered to use hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source. In 2005, Sprint became the first to use fuel cell technology in ground based networks. The company deployed over 200 early generation fuel cells to wireless network sites in hurricane-prone areas such as New Orleans, Houston, and Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa, Florida. In 2009, the DOE gave Sprint a $7.3 million grant to support advances in fuel cell technology as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding earmarked for fuel cell technology. Sprint also worked with DOE to train local fire marshals and code officials on the benefits of fuel cell technology and to help with installation approvals. 
 
"We are excited to once again partner with the DOE to bring a new fuel cell technology solution to the market,” said Bob Azzi, chief network officer at Sprint. “To date, we’ve deployed approximately 500 hydrogen fuel cells in our network. This technology will provide backup power for our network and could extend to other industries as well.”
 
Using hydrogen fuel cell technology allows for less network site maintenance, plus it’s a cleaner energy source and will increase network survivability when there are power outages. Fuel cell technology is touted as a cleaner alternative to diesel powered backup generators, which cause air pollution, including increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Diesel powered backup generators also have higher maintenance costs. Fuel cell technology is dependable and needs little maintenance, plus it can be deployed where diesel generators can’t be because of emissions restrictions. 
 
Sprint’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by an absolute 20 percent by 2017 and it is investing in other kinds of clean energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal to help meet that goal. The company has deployed a wind turbine at its headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas and solar power systems in California, New York, and Kansas. It has deployed geothermal cooling in South Carolina. Sprint’s efforts are being recognized. Compass Intelligence recently named Sprint as the most “eco focused” wireless carrier. In 2013, Sprint was the only telecommunications company named to CDP’s S&P 500 Climate Performance Leadership Index (CPLI). Sprint was named for the third consecutive year to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America. 
 
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Photo: Wikipedia
 

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