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KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Heat and Power Technology.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Abstract [en]

The total number of mobile subscriptions has been announced to reach 6 billion in the market, of which 4 billion are individual users. The rest of the people on earth are potential subscribers that mainly live in rural areas lacking mobile connectivity today. Many of these users do not have access to electricity and have 6 U.S. dollar per month (USD/month) of average revenue per person.


Referring to the year 2007, the telecommunication industry had a contribution of 0.6 percent of direct global carbon dioxide (CO2) or 0.4 percent of global carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). From 2007 to 2009, the number of off-grid radio base stations located in rural areas went up from 350,000 to 500,000. Nearly all of these sites use diesel generators and large amounts of fossil fuels during the operational stage. In addition the grid sites with diesel back-up were about 0.5 million in 2009. The financial and environmental consequences of the life cycle impact of the diesel fuel depleted can be significant. Adaptation of renewable energy has therefore become important for both environmental and economic reasons.


In this master thesis a Life Cycle Assessment of Ericsson’s Managed Rural Coverage (MRC) solution was made. Four main life cycle stages were included: manufacturing, transportation, operation and end-of-life treatment. MRC is an off-grid site solution consisting of electronic communication equipment (radio base station, base station controller, hub, cable) photovoltaic cells, battery, antenna, and constructions part (antenna pole, tower and foundation). This study also includes the satellite connection as well as Ericsson and operator activities in the assessment. The MRC distinguishes itself from the conventional base stations, by its significant decrease of energy consumption in its operational stage as well as the business model around the offering.

The assessment in this thesis was carried out in accordance with data retrieved from an Ericsson’s pilot system in Dungunab, Sudan. The ISO 1404X series of LCA standards was followed and Gabi software w used to evaluate the results.


The carbon footprint was found to be 0.3 kg CO2e/subscriber for the pilot setup. These calculations were based on an assumption that each pilot site serviced 1000 users. The maximum number of subscribers can be about 3200, which would decrease the life cycle CO2 emissions per user by 2/3.

According to the sensitivity analysis the maximum CO2 emissions for a conservative MRC scenario is less than 1 kg CO2e/subscriber. Although this figure represents a very conservative scenario, the result is low in comparison with an average GSM network which has an approximate carbon footprint of 15 kg CO2e/subscriber. It is important to note that the MRC is not intended to replace all conventional macro RBS sites due to limitations in performance and capabilities, but is rather a complement to conventional macro radio base station sites for applicable scenarios. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 59 p.
Keyword [en]
Life Cycle Assessment, off-grid base station, solar powered base station, LCA of base station, LCA of solar base station, Environmental assessment of base station, Environmental assessment of solar base station
National Category
Energy Engineering Environmental Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-127805OAI: diva2:645938
Subject / course
Environmental Assessment
Educational program
Master of Science - Sustainable Energy Engineering
2012-02-28, Department of Energy Technology School of Industrial Engineering and Management Brinellvägen 68 S-100 44, Stockholm, 10:30 (English)

Thesis registration number: EGI-2013-024MSC  EKV941

Available from: 2013-09-11 Created: 2013-09-05 Last updated: 2013-09-11Bibliographically approved

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