Sprint announced it is the only wireless carrier to be awarded a $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding earmarked for fuel cell technology. This is the largest single grant awarded by the Department of Energy for this round of grant funding, which totaled $41.9 million. The grant funding will be used to expand Sprint’s hydrogen fuel cell program at cell sites throughout the United States – creating 72 hours of additional network resiliency, especially critical during emergencies and natural disasters.
The grant funding will be used to expand the number of Sprint cell sites which rely on hydrogen fuel cells for back-up power. These fuel cells are activated when service from the local electric utility is disrupted during severe weather or other natural disasters. Currently, most deployed hydrogen fuel cells are paired with low-pressure hydrogen tanks which provide around 15 hours of back-up power before needing refueling. As part of this grant, Sprint will work with hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, tank providers and hydrogen suppliers to extend the unassisted run-time to 72 hours.
“Since 2005 Sprint has been a leader in the deployment of fuel cell technology. We have deployed more than 250 hydrogen fuel cells in our network, have been awarded a total of three Department of Energy grants to deploy new hydrogen fuel cell technologies and awarded 12 patents from the U.S. Patent Office that include hydrogen fuel cells,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of Network at Sprint.
Hydrogen fuel cells provide a much cleaner alternative to diesel-powered back-up generators which have been utilized in the past. Sprint’s leadership in hydrogen fuel cell deployment is just one example of the company’s commitment to the environment. Recently, Sprint announced a set of ambitious environmental priorities that included reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 percent and securing 10 percent % of Sprint’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2017.
“Sprint gets it – this alternative source of energy for mobile communications will not only help stimulate the nation’s economy and rebuild America, but also help lead to a greener cleaner environment,” Azzi continued.
With a successful track record of working with public entities, including state and local governments, Sprint provides wireline and wireless products and services that support and improve education, telemedicine, healthcare medical records, emergency communications and smart power grids. The company is well-positioned to provide the innovative telecommunications services envisioned by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Sprint offers the power of the nation’s most dependable 3G mobile broadband network,* best-in-class crisis communications, a dedicated business markets group and differentiated solutions such as smart metering to assist with the build-out of smart grid technology.