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SCTE Installs Hybrid 'Clean Energy' Backup System At Headquarters

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers has deployed a backup-power solution combining solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells that can keep the organization's communications systems at its Exton, Pa., headquarters up and running off the grid for five days -- or longer.

The point is not only to give SCTE a high-availability power solution but also to demonstrate how cable operators can use similar technologies to target large business services customers, SCTE president and CEO Mark Dzuban said.

"Here in Exton, if the lights go out, we can continue operating," he said. "This reinforces cable operators' ability to get into the Tier 1 business services market... For a Tier 1 customer, what is the cost of a liability for a one-day outage?"

The 19.7-kilowatt hybrid power system combines a newly installed 8-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell solution from CommScope with a 2.8-kilowatt grid interactive solar array and 20-hour runtime storage batteries installed by Alpha Technologies. Last year, Alpha installed a 48-panel solar array to provide power to SCTE's information-technology and communications infrastructure capable of generating upwards of 13,300-kW hours annually.

The system uses controls from Alpha and its OutBack Power subsidiary to optimize the generation and storage capabilities of all sources when public utility power is unavailable. CommScope's hydrogen fuel cell solution uses hydrogen-powered fuel cells -- whose only byproducts are heat and water -- to provide DC backup power solution for cable network headends and hub equipment.

With the new system, the SCTE can run for at least five days without power from the local utility, according to Dzuban. The power has in fact gone out since the system went online, he added, including earlier in July during a lightning storm.

The backup-power project also furthers SCTE's Smart Energy Management Initiative, Dzuban said, a program created to help the industry to identify near- and long-term solutions for energy management, power availability, alternative energy and recycling.

Dzuban said SCTE has a payback "that is very good" for the energy-management system but declined to disclose actual cost figures.