Air Liquide recently started up the first hydrogen fuel cell system on an isolated site in Belgium. This solution is an alternative power supply for telecom antennas that are located in isolated regions. It also allows the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Since the end of January 2013, the site of the telecoms firm Belgacom, located in Wemmel, in Belgium, has been powered by a fuel cell system developed by Axane (a subsidiary of Air Liquide Group) and distributed in Belgium by Locquet Motors. This solution in Wemmel supplies electricity (230 VAC) to a 3G antenna with an average power of 500 VA.

The fuel cell solution provided is a full service offer including the hydrogen supply, system operations, and maintenance of the cell as well as the telemonitoring of the system.

To offer its users optimal coverage throughout Belgium, Belgacom sets up antennas in sites that are isolated from the power grid. Awaiting connection to the power grid, these antennas are temporarily powered by generators. Belgacom is now testing fuel cell technology in order to develop antennas powered by a silent, reliable and high-performance energy supply that could replace these generators.

From the production of hydrogen to its use, a fuel cell system reduces CO2 emissions by 35 tonnes per year compared with a generator. With a technical life of 12,000 hours, Axane’s fuel cell systems are a competitive alternative thanks in particular to optimised maintenance costs.

Air Liquide has installed over 100 fuel cells on Telecom sites worldwide since 2010.