Vodafone today commissioned the UK’s first wind and solar mobile phone mast in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The mast will provide 4G coverage for the Eglwyswrw community.
A specially designed mast, which potentially eliminates the need to connect to the national electricity grid, can provide connectivity to ‘non-sites’ in remote and inaccessible locations in the UK – helping the industry achieve 95% of UK landmass coverage by 2025. It will also help Vodafone reduce carbon emissions and support its goal of reaching net zero UK operations by 2027.
The “self-powered” mast includes a unique Crossflow Energy wind turbine that can generate power even in light winds. The mast can be installed without trenching and electrical cable laying, which makes installation faster and easier and reduces the impact on the local environment.
It is also very quiet, making it viable for sensitive sites such as areas of outstanding natural beauty. It can also be “filtered” as a solid object by radar, birds, and bats so that it is easier to avoid, making it less harmful to wildlife.
The trial, in partnership with wind turbine technology specialists Crossflow Energy and mobile infrastructure partner Cornerstone, was conducted at Home Farm in the village of Eglwyswrw. The work will continue for two years and the data collected will help Vodafone improve the technology and identify the most suitable locations for the “autonomous” towers.
Providing mobile phone and internet services to rural communities helps boost the local economy, tackle isolation and bridge the rural digital divide. To date, building masts in coverage “no points” without current electrical connection has been a significant financial and logistical challenge.
Andrea Donna, Chief Network Officer and Director of Development, Vodafone, said:: “Connectivity is vital for everyone, no matter where you live. A self-powered mobile phone mast, with battery storage on site, can help us connect places that were previously impossible to reach. It will also help us reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our impact on local environments.
“If this experiment is successful, we’d like to roll out more ‘autonomous’ masts, focusing on areas with little or no coverage.”
Martin Barnes, CEO of Crossflow Energy, said:: “We are very excited to be partnering with Vodafone in the UK first. So far, the use of ‘small wind’ turbines in the race to net zero has been limited by performance, reliability and layout issues such as noise, vibration and damage to the environment. The unique design of our wind turbines addresses all of these challenges. directly. We believe that one day its use could be as widespread and popular as solar panels.”
Rhys Phillippe, CEO of Cornerstone said: As the UK’s leading tower company, we are proud to be part of this landmark project, driving innovation to create scalable and sustainable connectivity solutions. We look forward to our continued collaboration on our journey towards eco-friendly website designs.”