Sprint Takes Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology to Rooftops with Help From Department of Energy
Hydrogen fuel cells to provide backup power for rooftop cell sites, providing lower maintenance, cleaner energy and improved coverage
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), January 28, 2014 - Sprint (NYSE:S) will deploy hydrogen fuel cell technology as backup power to rooftop network sites with financial assistance from the Department of Energy (DOE). The solution should allow for lower network site maintenance and cleaner network energy sources and will increase network survivability during power outages.
“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.”
This is not the first time Sprint and the DOE have come together to deploy hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for their network. Sprint pioneered the introduction of fuel cell technology to ground-based networks in 2005. In 2009 the DOE provided a $7.3M grant for Sprint to support fuel cell technology advances. Rooftop cell sites comprise almost 25 percent of Sprint’s total network locations for which fuel cells have not been an option for fuel cell deployment until now. As much as 30 percent of total network cell sites are located on rooftops in some major metropolitan areas.
The technology, still in development, could enable innovative approaches to promote rooftop fuel cell deployments. One such approach is a modular and lightweight fuel cell solution that can be easily installed without heavy cranes and can be refueled from the ground – overcoming the need to transport fuel to rooftops.
Hydrogen fuel cells provide a much cleaner alternative to diesel-powered backup generators, a common solution with negative outcomes such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), increased risk of ground contaminants, and higher maintenance costs. Although their use is required in many cases, Sprint strives to limit the deployment of new fossil fuel generators that exhaust unhealthy GHG emissions. Sprint is working to reduce its GHG emissions by an absolute 20 percent by 2017. Several states are in the process of instituting strict generator exhaust emission legislation that can impose hefty fines on violators. Unlike fossil fuel based generators most commonly used to provide backup power, HFCs generate no environmentally undesirable greenhouse gases in creating electricity.
Although the full scope and financial aid of the project is yet to be determined, but expected in the next 60 days, Sprint is hopeful to begin installing the hydrogen fuel cell solution by the end of 2014. Today, the primary desired outcome of the program is to develop economically and operationally viable methodologies to scale up the deployment of rooftop fuel cell deployments. Both Sprint and the DOE hope this can also promote further hydrogen fuel cell advancement across a multitude of industries.
Sprint was recently honored as the most “eco focused” wireless carrier by Compass Intelligence and has been widely recognized for its environmental commitments to decrease energy use, enable more eco-friendly mobile solutions, and offer industry-leading wireless recycling programs.
Last year, Sprint was the only telecommunications company named to CDP’s S&P 500 Climate Performance Leadership Index (CPLI), which highlights companies that demonstrate strategies committed to improving their impact on the environment. Sprint was also named for the third consecutive year to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America, which tracks the corporate sustainability performance of the top 20 percent of the 600 largest companies by industry in the United States and Canada.
Sprint (NYSE:S) offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint served more than 54 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2013 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all 47 industries, during the last five years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
Marci VerBrugge-Rhind, 913-794-6319