Japan's largest mobile phone operator, NTT DoCoMo, plans to start powering its cell phone tower network with renewable energy such as solar, wind or biomass. The move could one day allow the company to feed excess electricity back into the grid, and would also act as a safeguard during power grid outages caused by natural disasters such as the March 11 quake and tsunami.
DoCoMo, which has 90,000 cell phone relay stations, said it will start the project by building some 10 renewable energy facilities in fiscal year 2012 to supplement the conventional electricity supply.
Daisuke Sakuma, a spokesman for DoCoMo, told AFP that "we are planning 'green transmission stations,' which would be run on eco-energy such as bio-fuel cells, wind or solar power."
"We have not decided details yet, including how many stations would be operated that way," he said, adding that the company could one day sell excess energy, although for now its aim was to meet its own power needs.
Sakuma said the move could also help protect the system against widespread blackouts. The March 11 seismic disaster knocked out power lines and mobile phone transmissions in large parts of the Tohoku region.
"In the wake of a major earthquake, a power outage of many hours would disrupt our service... Our plan is also meant to be an anti-quake measure, in addition to the environmental concerns."© Agence France-Presse