Autonomous solar power station for a cellular repeater. Jump into the unknown and what came of it

Russia is a huge country, and providing its entire territory with cellular communications is not an easy task. Our team always reads with interest the blog of a yellow-striped company, which sometimes in incredible conditions manages to put cell towers in the most “bearish corners” of our state.

Briefly about us: since 2008 we have been engaged in alternative energy, mainly solar.

The Altai Republic, in which we mainly develop activities, is a rather mountainous territory, and there are still plenty of places where there is no cellular connection. One of such places is the Turochaksky district, in which mainly mountains, forest and dead taiga. Nevertheless, people live here, despite the fact that electricity is generated by diesel generators, there is not much work, favorable conditions for managing - all the more.

A year ago (in 2013), we received a proposal to build an autonomous solar power station to power a cellular relay. The management of the district acted as the customer, and the regional branch of Vimpelcom undertook direct communications. The engineers of this company are highly qualified specialists and just great guys. Collaboration with them was very friendly and constructive. We enthusiastically responded to this proposal, and began to work out solutions. What came of it, read under the cut.


In a nutshell, the task was to build a solar station on the top of one of the mountains to power a repeater that transmitted a signal from a base station in the village where a BS connected to the optics stands. The target village was hiding behind this mountain, was powered by diesel generators, and since Soviet times there was no connection there.

What needed to be done:
1. 48 V DC system
2. The battery capacity should be enough for 10 days of telecommunication equipment.
3. An insulated room is needed to support a certain temperature range for installing batteries, controllers, 19 "racks and communication equipment.
4. Fencing (although we still doubt whether the bear will break this fencing)

The main problem encountered is delivery to the place of deployment.
The top of Mount Tash-Hall had no access roads. therefore, there was only one way out - to load everything on a skidder and make its way to the top.

Below is a piece from the Google maps, which schematically shows the starting points.
The coordinates indicate the top of Mount Tash-Hall, on which the station is installed.

07/01/2013 All preparations were made, the transport was loaded and we hit the road. Which turned out to be very difficult, the distance to the top was 6 km, but the skidder broke the tracks twice, for the third time something flowed, and finally, for the fourth time, after spending 6 hours, we were in place.

Preparing the download platform

Let's go!

Stuck like this, sometimes even worse.

One way or another, everyone is alive and well, got to the place and started work.

First stage. Marking the territory under the fence, marking the places under the "tables" for solar panels, with an orientation to the south.
Pile twisting under it all.


We put up a fence, began to mount tables under the solar panels.

Further painting of metal structures and the installation of solar modules on the tables.

General view of the installed panels.

Next, a container was erected for equipment, batteries, webasto and other trifles. Standard frame construction with insulation, nothing special.

The container is built, insulated, protected and ready to accept batteries, charge controllers and other equipment.
We assemble a 48-volt system - 6 clusters of 4 12 V batteries each. We attach 3 Morningstar MPPT 60A charge controllers to the wall.
Particular attention should be paid to the choice of cable cross-section and contact points at the battery terminals so that there is no heating.

Next, we installed a fuel tank for Webasto.

Meanwhile, engineers from VimpelCom installed their equipment rack.

Some common views of the solar station and repeater.
Station from the height of the repeater

General view. In the photo, our engineers.

Perhaps someone will be interested in the landscape from the top of the mountain. The views are beautiful and harsh. There are plenty of bears in the area.

System in operation

By July 15, 2013, the station was launched, and by September 1, 2013, cellular communication was launched in the village of Biyka. The Internet also appeared, but only in GPRS / EDGE mode, but 3G will be deployed in the near future, according to Beeline engineers.

Until the beginning of December 2013, the system worked stably and did not cause trouble until there were power outages. It turned out that the meteorological data obtained on the snow cover turned out to be incorrect, and almost the entire fence of the station was covered with snow, the panels fell asleep and the snow did not have time to melt - the batteries were practically not charged, a short sunny day affected, and shading from trees, which was not in the summer -autumn season. It was decided to quickly fix the problems that arose, and we again went on a business trip.

In the course of the work, it was decided to install the panels vertically so that the snow in any case could not cover the panels. Also, with the permission of the Ministry of Forestry, the tops of interfering trees were slightly sawn. According to foresters, there is nothing fatal in this, and the trees are safe.

A few photos from this trip:
Such a picture appeared before us upon arrival.
Meanwhile, they installed a street IP-camera, and fixed it on a tower in order to watch if the bears were breaking the borders.
So now the final configuration of the station looks. It’s a pity that they didn’t put it like that at the very beginning of the construction.


This experience allowed us to draw several important conclusions:

1. Carefully study meteorological data, as well as listen to local residents who have at least some kind of information about the area.
2. Calculate the angle of inclination of the panels, taking into account the most adverse weather conditions.
3. Understand that transportation costs can sometimes be more than high.
4. On any long business trip, take more repellents with you (in warm weather).

And the main, perhaps, conclusion is that electricity and communication can be obtained anywhere, if there was a desire and the necessary amount of finance. Russia has yet to master many uninhabited regions, and strengthen many sections of the border. And the experience that is being managed to be gained can be a good basis. The path of errors has not been walked several meters, and it is not known what lies ahead. Nevertheless, we are more than positive, and the following solutions and stations will only be better.

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