In an effort to transition to more sustainable and environment-friendly solutions, while providing connectivity to more communities, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) will roll out fuel cell sites in challenged-grid areas nationwide starting the second quarter of 2021 until the end of the year.
As the wireless arm of the Philippine integrated telecommunications company, PLDT Inc., Smart’s shift to green energy follows the announcement of the Department of Energy in the fourth quarter of 2020 that the Filipino government will no longer accept proposals to build new coal power plants, from the new Energy Conservation and Efficiency Act signed into law in 2019. These significant policy shifts help boost the deployment of cleaner energy sources, to help ensure more sustainable growth for the country.
As we face daunting challenges on how to protect our environment and promote more equitable social development, Smart’s cutting-edge technologies can play a significant role in rallying the right socio-environmental mindset and driving a greater sense of responsibility to the planet,” said Alfred Panlilio, president, Smart Communications Inc. and CEO and chief revenue officer, PLDT Inc.
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Smart’s 2021 foray into green technology will be made possible through a partnership with Denmark-based renewable energy company SerEnergy. A world-leading developer and supplier of methanol-based fuel cell solutions, the company will install over 90 green cell sites for Smart in off- and bad or challenged grid urban and rural locations.
Fuel cell technology
In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined to generate electricity, heat, and water to produce electricity through an electrochemical reaction, instead of combustion. The system is based on methanol-powered fuel, which can be combined with solar, wind, and other renewable resources to present a sustainable, cost-effective ecosystem. Stationary fuel cells provide virtually emission-free power and do not produce particulate pollutants or unburned hydrocarbons. They emit less carbon dioxide than other technologies, and when using fuel generated from renewable sources such as biomass, fuel cells are completely carbon neutral.
Aside from the environmental benefits of fuel cell-powered sites, the technology is said to be more cost-effective over the lifetime of the unit, compared to existing technologies. In cost-per-unit-of-energy terms, methanol compares favorably with both gasoline and diesel.
In many cases, fuel cells are also able to offer higher reliability, with no degradation of capacity over time and limited maintenance needed. These solutions also operate with low noise and vibration, meeting regulations for low environmental impact. In terms of safety, methanol is less prone to ignite than gasoline.
Smart’s venture into fuel cell technology for more environment-friendly cell sites is a key pillar of its “Live Smarter for a Better World” campaign. Under the movement, Smart intends to inspire people to commit to sustainable actions with lasting, positive impact on society.
“This initiative underscores what we have communicated in our Better World campaign: That we should strive to save what we can, while we can. Share more knowledge to build, and not to destroy. Show the ways to heal, and not to hurt. That we should strive to live smarter and make the world better, as we have the power to create a better world not just for our individual selves, but for the good of all,” Panlilio said.