NTT Docomo has launched a self-powered hydropower cellular base station.

The telco claims the demonstration held on May 30 is the first of its kind in Japan.

NTT Docomo
– Getty Images

According to Docomo, the demo involves its hydroelectric power-generation system and a jet turbine developed by Professor Yukihiro Shimatani of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.

The demonstration aims to "prove the feasibility of a self-powered base station using water flowing in an irrigation canal, etc., as a sustainable, low-cost solution for mobile communication networks in rural areas."

Docomo said that, depending on the results of the experiment, it hopes to introduce a hydropower system for the sustainable operation of self-powered base stations in mobile communications networks by March of next year.

The company plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by the end of the decade, and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its entire supply chain by 2040.

"The jet turbine incorporates a nozzle that emits a stream of water, or "jet," to drive the turbine's rotation in the opposite direction and thereby generate electricity," explained Docomo in a statement. "While conventional hydroelectric systems use a separate nozzle and turbine, this device combines both components in a design so simple it can be manufactured with a 3D printer."

It added that the hydropower system can convert electricity into a "form suitable for powering base stations."

The system can collect data on electric current, voltage, and power, plus water flow and pressure, which are then transmitted to Docomo's Energy Management System (EMS) platform to monitor and control power driving the base station.