Digi is first in Malaysia to test hydrogen-powered base stations

Digi spearheads initiative with industry to test a proof of concept using a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell system to power base stations, possibly replacing or reducing the use of diesel.

Written: Jan 2016

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Digi is currently piloting a project to reduce its base stations’ dependency on diesel generators as sources of power. Its hybrid hydrogen fuel cell testing is made possible by a grant from the Green Technical Working Group under the Malaysia Technical Standard Forum Berhad, which is funded by the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission.

The proof of concept, now being carried out at a pilot base station near Rompin, Pahang (pictured below) uses a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell system that is not only able to power base stations but also achieve zero Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.

How it will work

The hybrid hydrogen fuel cell system extracts water from the atmosphere. It then breaks the water down to produce hydrogen to power the fuel cells and generate electricity for the base station. The by-product of this form of energy is oxygen and water. Zero GHGs are released into the atmosphere as a result of this process.

“We believe that we are the first at attempting to create a self-sustaining system in the industry that will not require refueling. This is because the hybrid fuel cells that are available now are largely dependent on the delivery of hydrogen gas tanks, methanol or other fuel sources to power the fuel cells,” according to project manager, Alex Kuik. The system being tested does not require any of that, thus achieving carbon neutrality. “The success of the testing will be dependent on multiple variables. If the system fails, it will switch over to the national grid, so this will measure the capacity and efficiency of the system,” said Kuik.