Eco-Tower promises rural connectivity

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Vodafone is set to improve rural connectivity with the deployment of off-grid Eco-Towers that utilise wind turbines combined with solar and battery technologies.

Vodafone has collaborated with Port Talbot-based Crossflow Energy on the development of Crossflow’s off-grid energy solution, which is a Transverse Axis wind turbine that addresses drawbacks of conventional ‘small wind’.

The turbine, which removes reliance on diesel generators for backup power, incorporates a patented shield which delivers optimum lift and drag performance across different wind speeds. The patented design was created in collaboration with Swansea University through CFD simulations and validated by experimental testing in the MIRA wind tunnel.

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Vodafone, alongside network partner Cornerstone, will now run a proof of concept to install Crossflow Turbine technology on rural mobile sites.

Eco-Tower
Crossflow Energy’s wind turbine technology (Image: Crossflow Energy)

In a statement, Andrea Dona, chief network officer, Vodafone UK, said: “We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges. Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry.

“Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net zero in the UK by 2027.”

Crossflow’s CEO Martin Barnes added: “We are really excited to be working with Vodafone. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show how our self-powered Eco-Tower solves the problem of harnessing ‘small wind’ to offer not just that all important carbon reduction but also significant commercial benefits. In the case of Vodafone, it will help to accelerate the expansion of rural connectivity, transform energy consumption patterns and deliver significant economic and carbon savings.

“Our turbine technology has equally strong applications for so many other industries, but to have such a high-profile player as Vodafone deploying our Eco-Tower is a major endorsement for us and our technology.”