NTT Docomo demos self-powered hydropower base station

Japanese operator NTT Docomo has launched what it says is Japan's first demonstration experiment of a self-powered hydropower cellular base station.

Andrew Wooden

May 30, 2024

1 Min Read

The setup involves Docomo's hydroelectric power-generation system and a jet turbine developed by Professor Yukihiro Shimatani of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto. It is intended to prove the feasibility of a self-powered base station using water flowing in an irrigation canal, as a ‘sustainable and low-cost solution’ for providing connectivity in rural areas.

In terms of how the gizmo works, it incorporates a nozzle that emits a stream of water to drive the turbine's rotation in the opposite direction and thereby generate electricity. Conventional hydroelectric systems use a separate nozzle and turbine, we’re told, but the clever thing about this device is that combines both components in a design ‘so simple it can be manufactured with a 3D printer.’

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.

“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”, states the release. “Going forward, DOCOMO expects to increasingly adopt renewable energy as part of its commitment to decarbonization and the realization of a sustainable, carbon-neutral world.”

Base stations account for approximately 70% of the power consumed in Docomo's operations in Japan, it says. It has 286 self-powering base stations already live which mainly use solar power, but the idea with this project is that hydropower can be employed in places where solar panels are not practical.

Depending on how the experiment goes, Docomo hopes to make some operational in its network by March 2025. Here are some images describing how the device works:


About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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