Galooli ramps energy management business in U.S.

In 2023 the wireless industry seems more interested in energy savings than ever before. And the Dallas-based energy management company — Galooli — is tapping into that interest.

Galooli has served tower, telco and energy companies all over the world for 15 years. It only began marketing in the U.S. in 2022, where it’s already gaining some traction.

Ronan Barel, CEO and co-founder of Galooli, said one of the company’s biggest customers, globally, is American Tower, which it works with in six countries. It also works with the tower company SBA Communications. And in other parts of the world it works with the operators MTN and Airtel.

Barel said it’s begun working with Tier 1 and Tier 2 telcos in the U.S., but it can’t disclose those customer names at this time.

The most pressing energy concerns for wireless operators vary between developed and developing countries.

Barel said in developing countries operators are most concerned with maintaining uptime and avoiding the expenses of backup power. Fuel for air conditioning is the top expense. Galooli’s software helps operators to orchestrate all their various energy sources, whether grid-based electricity, renewables, generators or batteries.

In the U.S. operators are mostly focused on energy efficiency, reducing their carbon footprint and optimizing energy usage to increase their average revenue per user (ARPU). “A major concern is 5G because they’re going to consume two to three times more energy,” said Barel.

Tower energy usage

He said large macro tower sites that feed numerous other tower sites might consume as much as 500 kW. A single-tenant tower will use from 5-10 kW, almost constantly. And a tower with multiple tenants will use about 30 kW.

He explained that the first form of backup power is usually batteries, which will supply power if grid-energy to a site goes down even for just a minute — because constant power is necessary. The next line of defense will often be generators, but they’re expensive to run. So, many operators and tower companies are installing renewable energy resources such as solar.

A relatively new trend is to create an on-site, independent pico grid, which includes batteries, generators and solar power. Wireless operators and tower companies can even sell any unused power back to the electric grid.

“The power world is becoming more distributed,” said Barel.

Galooli is working with an un-named WISP in the U.S. that has 12 tower sites that can run for three days completely off-grid, running with renewables and battery power. “He’s got a situation where he doesn’t care if power goes off because of a hurricane. If it’s cloudy he’s got three days of charge,” said Barel. “He could get a charge truck out there and keep going.”

The problem with batteries

However, batteries can be a real problem for wireless operators because they die, and they’re very expensive to replace. Consequently, they sometimes get ignored. 

At the recent CCA conference, Paul Feldmann, VP of engineering with Carolina West, said his field manager recently said, “I need batteries.”

Feldmann asked, “How many?”

The manager said, “All of them.”

Feldman said, “That’s $5 million.”

Galooli’s software can provide visibility into a fleet of batteries and notify the operator when one needs to be replaced.

Galooli’s pitch

“The main thing I argue with my customers is you can start today by saving with your existing portfolio," said Barel. "Replace equipment that is almost dead, but optimize existing equipment. Our approach is to start saving today, because the path to net zero starts today, by acting.”

Operators can start by analyzing their energy asset metadata and use orchestration to improve their efficiency and their margins. After they’re saving money on existing assets they can make a long-term plan to buy green energy assets.

David Suarez, business development executive with Galooli, said, “We have an ocean of data — 3 billion data points collected daily.” All this data can tell operators when a battery has died or when a diesel engine is running and wasting fuel unnecessarily, as just a couple of examples.

Barel also suggested that big operators should work with the tower companies to share energy at tower sites. While the operators in the U.S. have always been loath to share radio access network (RAN) resources, they could at least share energy resources. He said outside the U.S., American Tower works with operators that do share energy resources. But in the U.S. a tower site might have three backup generators, three backup battery banks and three backup renewable resources. “If they had the vision of let’s share the energy they would save a huge amount of money this morning,” he said.