Kenyan Telecom Company to Replace 800 Diesel Generators with Fuel Cells

Gencell, a startup based in Israel, says it will begin installing its fuel cell systems at the base of off-grid cell towers in Kenya toward the end of this year

Asaf Shalev 17:4402.07.18
In rural Kenya, 800 cell towers will soon be powered by fuel cell technology instead of diesel generators.


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Adrian Group Kenya Ltd., a telecommunications company, has inked a deal for the job with Gencell Ltd., an Israel-based startup recently profiled by Calcalist. Gencell announced the contract on Monday, saying it would begin shipping and installing fuel cell units at the base of off-grid cell towers in the West African country toward the of this year.


A telecom tower (Illustrative). Photo: Gencell A telecom tower (Illustrative). Photo: Gencell
Fuel cells work by converting hydrogen fuel and oxygen into electricity. Because the chemical reaction does not produce emissions, it has been promoted as a potential alternative to the burning of fossil fuels.


The technology has not been feasible in many regions of the world where hydrogen fuel is unavailable. Last month, however, Gencell introduced a fuel cell system that comes equipped with a special device that converts ammonia, a readily available substance, into hydrogen fuel.


The startup says that a single 12-ton tank of ammonia should allow its GenCell A5 Off-Grid Power Solution to electrify a telecom tower for an entire year.


“For the last 20 years, diesel generators have been the dominant primary power source for off-grid or poor-grid base stations,” Bernard Njoroge, the managing director of Adrian Group, said in a statement. “But today they are no longer a good fit for modern businesses that seek to minimize (operating expenses) or for the environmentally conscious world in which we live.”


Gencell said Adrian Group can expect to save $84 million over 10 years.
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