small hydro


Docomo launches Japan’s first demo of self-powered hydropower base station

NTT Docomo has announced it has launched Japan's first demonstration experiment of a self-powered hydropower cellular base station which involves Docomo's hydroelectric power-generation system and a jet turbine developed by Professor Yukihiro Shimatani of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.
Docomo launches Japan’s first demo of self-powered hydropower base station
Courtesy of NTT Docomo.

The experiment aims to prove the feasibility of a self-powered base station using water flowing in an irrigation canal, or similar waterway, as a sustainable, low-cost solution for mobile communication networks in rural areas.

Based on the results of the experiment, Docomo hopes to introduce a hydropower system for the sustainable operation of self-powered base stations in mobile communications networks by March 2025.

The jet turbine incorporates a nozzle that emits a stream of water, or ‘jet’, to drive the turbine's rotation in the opposite direction and thereby generate electricity. While conventional hydroelectric systems use a separate nozzle and turbine, this device combines both components in a design so simple it can be manufactured with a 3D printer.

The newly developed hydropower system converts electricity into a form suitable for powering base stations. It also collects data on electric current, voltage and power, as well as water flow and pressure, which are then transmitted to Docomo's Energy Management System (EMS) platform to monitor and control power driving the base station. The platform also visualises the amount of CO2 reduction achieved with this sustainable hydropower system.

While Docomo's green base stations mainly use solar power, this initiative aims to use renewable energy such as hydropower in places where solar panels are not practical.

Docomo aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2030 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its entire supply chain by 2040. Going forward, Docomo expects to increasingly adopt renewable energy as part of its commitment to decarbonisation and the realisation of a sustainable, carbon-neutral world.

Base stations for mobile communications account for approximately 70 percent of the power consumed in Docomo's operations in Japan. To reduce CO2 emissions from base station operations, Docomo has established green base stations that incorporate solar-power systems and large-capacity storage batteries.

The company had 286 such stations in operation as the fiscal year ending in March 2024. Electricity generated by these solar-power systems is used to power equipment and excess electricity is stored in lithium-ion batteries for use in the event of a prolonged power outage, such as following a natural disaster.

In addition, Docomo's EMS Platform visualises power generation and CO2 reduction in each area and for each base station, aimed at optimising power operations across the entire Docomo group.

For additional information:

NTT Docomo

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