Sharper Solutions

Working towards an environmentally friendly site design

A partnership between Cornerstone, Vodafone and Crossflow Energy has resulted in an innovative trial using self-powered sites to enable mobile connectivity in rural locations.

It could be a potential game-changer for communities across the nation to access mobile and broadband connectivity that were previously hindered by challenging geography and less environmentally friendly power sources. We are at the early stages of exploring greener power solutions, which presents an exciting prospect. We spoke to Nick Spedding, Operations Manager at Cornerstone, to find out more about Cornerstone’s involvement:

What has Cornerstone’s role been in this initiative?

It all began when we were approached by Vodafone and Crossflow Energy. They asked if we could provide a couple of our sites to prove the concept of Crossflow Energy’s solution in producing off-grid power for mobile telecoms sites through their wind turbine design. Having selected our sites, we then needed to work out how to upgrade them to deploy the Crossflow Energy mast.

How is Cornerstone upgrading its sites to house the new infrastructure?

For each site, we are swapping out the existing pole for one designed and provided by Crossflow Energy, which also accommodates Vodafone’s radio antenna. We’re responsible for the full infrastructure deployment and have been designing the sites with input from Crossflow on their technical specification and Vodafone from a radio antenna perspective. It’s been very much a team effort from everyone.

What else has Cornerstone needed to do?

With this trial, we’ve needed to think about additional elements to the mobile telecoms environment. For example, structural considerations and planning requirements that will hopefully lead to planning permissions that are currently in progress. We’re consulting with and, where needed, providing the local authorities with information about noise, flicker, which is to do with light reflections, wildlife assessment and overall aesthetics to prove the case for this technology.

What makes this trial exciting for Cornerstone?

This collaboration goes a long way in proving the case for renewable energy sources, enabling connectivity to communities where it was previously difficult. If successful, it will give us scope to open up more sites without the traditional reliance on diesel power sources. It will also give us the opportunity to cut down our carbon footprint from mains power and reduce our carbon emissions. It’s an important step within Cornerstone’s wider Environmental programme.

As our CEO, Rhys Phillip, said, “Cornerstone is committed to sustainability and safeguarding the future of our planet. Piloting exciting initiatives like this with our partners and customers can only help us develop better ways of contributing to a sustainable, net-zero carbon emission future while ensuring a connected Britain.”