Techno-economic studies for the integration of solar PV technology in telecommunications sector for sustainable development : a case study of Budiriro.

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Mapfumo, Kline Tarcisius
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The University of Zambia
The telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe keeps growing with an increase in the number of users yearly. The demand on the national grid and low power supply means long hours of electricity outages, which prompts Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to use generators as backup power to keep base stations online for uninterrupted provision of internet to consumers. Generator systems increase operation expenditure (OPEX) of running base stations, produces GHG emissions and intern attract additional cost of emission. This causes an increase in cost of running the business and consequently internet data prices. A case study was conducted in Budiriro a suburb in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. A framework was developed which analysed six combinations (Grid + Generator, Generator only, Generator + Solar, Solar only, Grid + Solar and Grid only) of power sources based on sustainability pillars; Economical, Environmental and Social, as well as technical capability. The six alternatives were simulated in HOMER Pro, a system that evaluates designs for both off-grid and grid connected power systems, to determine the output (power output, investments, costs and emissions) of these individuals systems. Using a sub criterion of 15 pairwise combinations, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used to rank these systems and the best solution chosen based on the main criteria of the sustainability pillars, as well as technical capability. The result shows that Grid + Solar PV system provide the best optimal alternative power system to power base stations for the study area, substituting Grid + Generator system (Existing system). It reduces OPEX by over 1,000 percent offering 37 percent more power and 41.13 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided per year. Socially, power sharing between households and base stations as well as reduction of air and noise pollution. The optimal alternative power source for base station proposed here in this study will help reduce greenhouse gas emission, dependence on grid and operation costs which in turn will reduce data prices, increase internet accessibility at affordable rates and provide a sustainable future of telecommunications businesses in Budiriro. Keywords: Telecommunications Industry, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Solar PV, Budiriro
Renewable energy. , Telecommunications industry. , Solar energy. , Photovoltaic power systems. , Photovoltaic power generation.