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Energy as a Broadband Provider Strategy

Energy as a strategy for broadband service providers to be more sustainable and more efficient is what George Goncalves recommended at FiberConnect 2023. In the above interview, Goncalves, Director of Product Line Management of ATX Networks, explains how hybrid supercapacitors (HSC) fit into such a strategy.

Performance, Sustainability, and Safety Advantages

In the realm of energy storage, HSCs are a promising alternative to traditional batteries, offering a combination of high power density and long cycle life. While batteries excel in storing large amounts of energy, their performance is often hindered by limited power density and shorter lifespans. Supercapacitors, on the other hand, boast exceptional power density but fall short in energy density. HSCs bridge this gap by combining the strengths of both technologies, delivering both high power and energy density while maintaining a long cycle life.

From a sustainability standpoint, HSCs offer several environmental benefits over conventional batteries. Unlike batteries, which often contain hazardous chemicals and require complex recycling processes, HSCs are devoid of such harmful substances and can be recycled more easily. Additionally, HSCs have a significantly longer lifespan; up to 20 years compared to the 3-5 years of lead-acid batteries. This extended lifespan translates to reduced resource consumption and waste generation, further enhancing their sustainability profile.

HSCs also address safety concerns associated with traditional batteries, particularly the risk of thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is a dangerous phenomenon that can occur in batteries when excessive heat triggers an uncontrolled release of energy, leading to fire or explosion. HSCs eliminate this risk due to their unique electrochemical mechanism, which prevents the buildup of excessive heat and ensures safe operation. Additionally, because it is an electrostatic process, outgassing, associated with lead-acid batteries, is not a concern.

Telecom Applications & Beyond

HSCs are well-suited for a wide range of applications that demand both high power and long cycle life. For instance, HSCs can complement batteries in electric vehicles, providing rapid acceleration and regenerative braking capabilities while extending battery life. HSCs can also effectively store energy generated from renewable sources like solar and wind, ensuring consistent power supply even when renewable sources are intermittent

As Goncalves points out, they fit well into an operator’s backup power plans for data center/central offices, cell sites, and remote cabinets. Their 100% depth of discharge effectively allows for more energy storage in a given space. They are also ideal for off-grid applications, such as this example where the fuel savings alone from implementing HSCs were estimated to be between $65-$70k per year.

As HSC technology continues to mature, its adoption is expected to expand across various industries, contributing to a more sustainable and safe energy landscape. Their ability to combine high power, energy density, long cycle life, and environmental friendliness makes them a compelling choice for a wide spectrum of applications.

References

  1. Zhang, M., Zhang, X., & Zhang, H. (2023). A review of recent advances in hybrid supercapacitors: Design, fabrication and applications. Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering, 41, 165-185. https://journals.scholarsportal.info/details/13640321/v101icomplete/123_aroraihsdfaa.xml&sub=all
  2. Eaton. (n.d.). Hybrid Supercapacitors. Retrieved from https://atx.com/energy-storage-backup-power/
  3. Viodi. (2020, July 30). Cell Sites, Solar, Super-Capacitors: Off-Grid for 5G More. Retrieved from https://www.viodi.tv/2020/07/30/cell-sites-solar-super-capacitors-off-grid-for-5g-more/

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