Cell tower-mounted wind turbine could address power issues

A group of students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a wind turbine that can be used to supply power to cell towers that have unreliable access to electricity.

WiscWind is being billed as a replacement for diesel generators and as a renewable energy source that doesn't require its own expensive tower. The team, which recently took its device to New Orleans to compete in a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, envisions its turbine for use in countries like India.

WiscWind says its turbine is being designed for a battery that will be capable of powering electrical loads for several markets throughout India. The team chose India as the ideal market because of the country's strong winds and because 21.3 percent of India's population doesn't have access to electricity.

What the team came up with is a six-foot-tall, three feet in diameter wind turbine that houses double helix-shaped blades. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the design was chosen because of its efficiency and because it has fewer moving parts than most traditional wind turbines, making it easier to maintain and repair. The turbine uses a three-phase permanent magnet synchronous machine for electricity generation.

Cell towers already use a number of different options for providing backup power but solutions like lead acid have to be charged by the cell tower's power system and generators tend to run on expensive, non-renewable fossil fuels. Wind power could potentially remove some of the need for a power system connected to the grid and would also not require diesel fuel.

But wind turbines on cell towers is not the only option for renewable energy use at macro sites. Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, Panasonic introduced its new Green Tower solution that uses lithium ion battery, solar panels, and satellite communications for monitoring and remote access capabilities to provide energy infrastructure to towers located off of energy grids. Green Tower has been deployed at sites in Northern Europe, Southeast Asia, and in North America and Europe. 

For more:
- see this Inside Towers story
- see this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story

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