telecom fuel cell solutions



Backup power systems are used to power electronic systems during grid power outages. Telecom companies, Utilities and Railways need to be able to rely on their backup systems. Until now battery packs in combination with diesel generators have been the most common solution to bridge temporary grid failures. Now, a better alternative is available: TROPICAL PEM fuel cell powered backup systems.

TROPICAL suggests 3 backup power solutions for telecom networks:

1. FC-W system : Energy from RES for telecom backup (1KW , 2KW ,5KW , 10KW).

Tropical’s back-up power system, remote off-grid sites have a lower cost than diesel generators and batteries. Today the diesel gensets are used for providing back-up power. However, telecom industries are looking for more efficient, clean solutions to replace diesel.

Tropical offer complete “hydrogen fuel cell power system” to use in their back-up power solution. The system includes an electrolyser for hydrogen for on-site production, directly from renewables, using filtered rainwater. There is no limit on how much hydrogen you can produce and store, so all the renewable energy can be fully optimized, as opposed to batteries, which are full after 3 hours.

2. FC-H system : Energy from Hydrogen for telecom backup (1KW , 2KW, 5KW , 10KW).

With one hydrogen storage tank and a fuel cell power generator we offer a reliable back-up power system for telecom networks.

3. FC-M system : Energy from Methanol for telecom backup (2.5KW ,5KW , 10KW).

With one methanol storage tank and a fuel cell power generator we offer a reliable back-up power system for telecom network.

Other Applications:

Wireless Telecommunications
3G & 4G wireless, WiMax, Remote radio heads,
Backhaul applications — Microwave & Fiber
Wireline Telecommunications
FTTx, Broadband DLC
Off-grid Applications
Radio/Repeater Sites, Microwave Communications,
Highway Alert Radio & Weather Information Systems and more
Government Communications
Radio repeaters, flight guidance, disaster response,
surveillance & security, microwave communications
Transportation Network Communications
Railroad signaling, Traffic signage & signaling


Fuel Cells for Backup Power in Telecommunications Facilities

Providing a constant, reliable electric power supply

Telecommunications providers rely on backup power to maintain a constant power supply, to prevent power outages, and to ensure the operability of cell towers, equipment, and networks. The backup power supply that best meets these objectives is fuel cell technology.

Why do providers need backup power?

The telecommunications industry relies on an elaborate network of cell phone towers and field facilities to transmit phone calls and provide services. To operate effectively, each of these towers and field facilities requires a constant and highly reliable electrical power supply.

The industry transmits voice and electronic data through wired and wireless networks. To provide these services, facilities require substantial electrical power, which usually comes from the electrical grid but may also be converted to direct current (DC) power at -48 volts for wired networks and +24 volts for wireless networks. Adequate, effective backup power is essential because the electrical grid is subject to disruption by natural and man-made causes like extreme weather and power shortages.

As the telecommunications industry continues to expand rapidly, the increased use of cell phones, computers, and high-speed Internet requires an increase in the number of cell phone towers and field facilities needed to support these services. This expansion introduces new challenges, and service reliability through backup power sources remains at the forefront for industry providers. To prevent power outages, providers use redundancy and backup power sources.

What backup power sources exist?

When a tower or facility loses power from the grid, a backup power source must assume the site load. Most telecommunications facilities have at least eight-hour backup— often required by regulation—but locations prone to lengthy power outages, such as hurricane-prone areas, require backup capability between 24 and 72 hours. To accomplish this requirement, most providers use a combination of three backup power technologies: batteries, generators, and fuel cells.


As the most-common source of backup power, batteries provide direct current (DC) power. Lead-acid batteries continually charge with grid power and provide the stored electricity as backup power until the grid is restored. Batteries can supply only as much power as they have stored, and severe weather conditions can hinder their operation.


Generators provide alternating current (AC) power and can be automatically or manually activated. In remote, off-grid locations, generators may be used as general power sources.

Fuel Cells

Backup power fuel cells use PEM technology to provide DC power. PEM fuel cells are fueled directly by hydrogen, operate at low temperatures, are smaller than other fuel cells, and have a short warm-up time. Most PEM fuel cells have integral batteries or ultracapacitors to provide immediate power.


Replacing Diesel Generators with Fuel Cells (Differences)

Generators:  Fuel Cells:

High Emissions

Maintenance Intensive

 Low Emissions

Less Maintenance


Why are fuel cells the best backup power?

Fuel cells are energy-conversion devices that can efficiently capture and use the energy-carrying capacity of hydrogen to power nearly every end-use energy need. Energy uses include portable devices, transportation vehicles, and stationary power stations, such as those used for the telecommunications industry.

Fuel cells are more effective than batteries for backup power because they last longer and are more predictable. Even though batteries have a five-year life expectancy, their capacity diminishes with time, and they can be ruined if their charge is drawn too often. Fuel cells, however, can operate for ten years or more with undiminished power quality and quantity.

Compared with generators, fuels cells are cleaner, quieter, pollute less, and require little on-site maintenance.

Fuel cells are environmentally friendly because they convert the chemical energy in hydrogen directly to electricity with pure water and heat as the only by-products. Other advantages of fuel cells for backup power include:

  • Operating efficiencies >50%
  • Scalable and modular to operate in parallel
  • Wider operating temperature range (-40°F to 122°F)
  • Indoor or outdoor use with a minimal footprint
  • Longer life with no moving parts

Hydrogen Storage

Fuel cell installations are typically fueled by a six-pack of compressed hydrogen storage tanks. These containers each hold either 139 scf or 261 scf of hydrogen at a pressure of 2,400 psi and a weight of 137 lbs.

They have the combined capacity to power a fuel cell for 24–96 hours.

TROPICAL - Fuel Cell power generator from 1KW to 10KW (24V/DC or 48V/DC)

A single fuel cell will not provide the required power for most applications. Therefore, multiple fuel cells are linked together in a fuel cell power plant to meet the required power demand.

How do fuel cell power plants operate?

Telecommunications installations with backup fuel cell power often incorporate fuel cells and batteries. As the system voltage changes, rectifiers or controllers switch between the primary power source and the backup power sources.

In the absence of grid power or another primary alternating current (AC) power source, the fuel cells, or a combination of fuel cells and batteries, provide direct current (DC) power to run the equipment. The fuel cells have internal batteries that provide temporary “bridge” power until the fuel cell reaches peak power production and takes over the load. When the primary power source is restored, the fuel cells shut down, and the load is returned to the primary source.

The fuel cell system needs hydrogen and oxygen(from the air) in order to operate.

TROPICAL suggests 3 ways in order to feed the fuel cell power generator with hydrogen:

1. HYDROGEN FROM RES: Hydrogen production from renewable energy (solar PV & windgenerator) through electrolyser (using filtered rainwater ) for on-site hydrogen production and storage to the hydrogen tank .

2. COMPRESSED HYDROGEN: A six-pack of compressed hydrogen storage tanks.

3. HYDROGEN FROM METHANOL: A methanol storage tank (with a reformer system produce hydrogen and feeds the fuel cells power generator).

When the hydrogen fuel supply in a fuel cell is low, a self-checking alarm remotely alerts the operator to replenish the storage containers. The operator can resupply the fuel cell via “hot swapping” or “bumping.” In a “hot-swap” resupply, operators deliver pre filled hydrogen storage containers to the site and swap them individually with the depleted containers without disrupting backup operations. “Bump” resupply involves refilling the storage containers at the site. A hydrogen tanker delivers hydrogen gas and replenishes the existing storage supply.

Do fuel cell power plants require maintenance?

Fuel cells used for telecommunications backup power require less maintenance than batteries or generators, but they do require periodic maintenance. Tropical maintain fuel cell backup power systems annually. The fuel cell power plant performs self-maintenance, and Tropical can configure the units to run unattended conditioning cycles to ensure operability.


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