Later this month, Helix Wind Corporation will deliver its first test wind turbines to Eltek Network Solutions Group for installation at two test sites in Nigeria. Sites in the US are also set to take delivery of test modules. The turbines will provide a clean energy solution for mobile phone towers and if tests prove successful, could see wind power being rolled out to hundreds of sites over the next few years.
"Currently such towers are powered by diesel generators, which are bad for the environment and extremely expensive to operate," said Helix Wind CEO Ian Gardner. "Anywhere the power grid is unreliable, expensive or simply non-existent, wind is an ideal renewable energy resource able to power these towers and reduce their operating cost."
Unlike familiar tri-blade turbines which can only capture wind energy from one direction at a time, the Helix system catches the wind from all directions in its long helical blade scoops. The scoop will start to spin in a slight 8mph breeze and is robust enough to withstand sustained winds of up to 80mph and gusts of up to 125mph without suffering damage. Combine this robustness with low maintenance and remote locations beckon.
Mobile phones, it seems, are here to stay and masts will continue to dot their way around towns and cities, villages and countryside for some time to come. According to the company, investment in wind technology by mobile phone operators should not only pay for itself in as little as six months but with systems ranging from 300W to 50kW, it should also allow towers to go completely off-grid or not have to depend on unreliable or expensive energy sources.
Whether embracing such technology will lead to a cheaper mobile experience for us consumers remains to be seen, but using clean energy to power the masts that help make those experiences possible is long overdue.
The following video shows the Helix system in operation around the world: