Nokia and Elisa deploy water cooled base station to cut 5G energy costs

As we reported in Wireless Watch last week, there is rising concern that 5G networks, far from reducing energy consumption and emissions, will be more power-hungry than their predecessors.

Nokia and Finnish operator Elisa have announced their contribution to addressing this challenge, a liquid-cooled base station that claims to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 80%. The companies worked with energy company Efore to install the equipment in an apartment building in Finnish capital Helsinki.

Heat emitted from the base station is redirected to heat the building, lowering energy costs. Nokia Bell Labs, which developed and tested the solution, said it saw a reduction of up 80% in CO2 emissions and up to 30% in energy operating expenses, during a trial. Liquid cooling also does away with the need for air conditioning and fans, increasing the savings and lengthening base station life.

The base station was produced at Nokia’s Oulu facility in Finland and the liquid-cooled power system was developed by Efore.

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland evaluated the environmental impact and energy usage compared to base stations cooled by air.

“We have set science-based targets to reduce our emissions in our effort to become an environmental leader, and we are committed to providing customers the services that enable them to act in a sustainable way,” said Minna Kröger, director of corporate responsibility at Elisa.

“This first commercial deployment will enable us to understand the real world benefits for customers such as Elisa as they transition toward 5G, and how the system can be implemented on a wider scale to help reduce the environmental impact of information and communications technology,” added Pekka Sundström, head of the Elisa customer team at Nokia.

Base stations account for 80% of a mobile network’s overall energy usage, and about 50% of that energy goes on air conditioning and fans. That drove Nokia Bell Labs to experiment with liquid cooling, given that thermal conductivity of air is 22 times lower than that of water – so liquid cooling requires only 10% of the energy used by air cooling.