On the Use of Small Solar Panels and Small Batteries to Reduce the RAN Carbon Footprint
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The limited power requirements of new generations of base stations make the use of renewable energy sources, solar in particular, extremely attractive for mobile network operators. Exploiting solar energy implies a reduction of the network operation cost as well as of the carbon footprint of radio access networks. However, previous research works indicate that the area of the solar panels that are necessary to power a standard macro base station (BS) is large, making the solar panel deployment problematic, especially within urban areas. In this paper we use a modeling approach based on Markov reward processes to investigate the possibility of combining a connection to the power grid with small area solar panels and small batteries to run a macro base station. By so doing, it is possible to exploit a significant fraction of renewable energy to run a radio access network, while also reducing the cost incurred by the network operator to power its base stations. We assume that energy is drawn from the power grid only when needed to keep the BS operational, or during the night, which corresponds to the period with lowest electricity price. The proposed energy management policies have advantages in terms of both cost and carbon footprint. Our results show that solar panels of the order of 1-2 kW peak, i.e., with a surface of about 5-10 m 2 , combined with limited capacity energy storage (of the order of 1-5 kWh, corresponding to about 1-2 car batteries) and a smart energy management policy, can lead to an effective exploitation of renewable energy.