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Off-Grid Solar Power Solution Enables Necessary Communication

A desolate 50-mile road leads to a gold mine in a remote part of Alaska. This road is critical for mining operations — bringing supplies (including dynamite) to and from the mine. One factor makes this road a potentially dangerous drive: It’s a one-lane road; traffic can go only one direction at a time.

To prevent a collision, communication is critical. To enable the communication, two radio towers are installed on a remote mountain top, but — and here’s the rub — there is no access to electricity.

The towers run on off-grid solar power; each of those towers has solar panels and battery packs. When the solar panels failed last year, a mine employee had to take a generator up the mountain to get power to the tower.

“They can’t have that happen,” says MicroAge’s Hunter Boyd. “Those towers are mission critical.”

So the mine’s IT director and telecom expert reached out to Hunter.

The client wanted to increase power to the point that they would have enough run time to last for 30 days in case something happened to the panels and it took time to repair.

They wanted to store as much sun as they could. The MicroAge solar power solution was able to increase their stored power six fold.

The off-grid solar power solution included 20 solar panels — Canadian Solar 270W All-Black mono-crystalline cells, which are built to withstand colder temperatures — as well as two MidNite Solar Classic 200 charge controllers, which convert the solar power so that it can be stored in a battery and used.

The client also replaced about 40 of their 150 batteries, and will replace the rest this spring.

To help design the solution, Hunter reached out to RES Solar and spoke with an engineer who helped install the mine’s original solar panels 10 years ago. He was familiar with what was installed and how it was installed, and therefore able to fill in a lot of the blanks.

And with his consultation, Hunter was able to fully understand the needs of a solar installation in Alaska, where the weather and location creates a unique landscape for solar.

The client handled the installation with MicroAge’s guidance. And today, they’re enjoying increased power production and voltage (which went from 45 to 270).

“Having 30 days of stored power is a huge relief to our client,” Hunter says. “Ultimately, it helps them keep people safe on the road to the mine. That’s the most important thing.”

MicroAge is more than computers. If you need a creative solution to a problem, we can help. You can reach Hunter Boyd at 480-366-2054 or hunter.boyd@microage.com.

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Hunter Boyd
14 Years Experience
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