Malaysia’s third largest operator Digi is piloting a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell project to reduce its dependency on diesel generators to power its base stations.

The proof-of-concept test uses a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell system that Digi said achieves zero green house gas emissions. The system extracts water from the atmosphere and then breaks it down to produce hydrogen to power the fuel cells and generate electricity for the base station. The by-product is only oxygen and water.

“We believe that we are the first at attempting to create a self-sustaining system in the industry that will not require refueling,” said Alex Kuik, Digi’s project manager.

The hybrid fuel cells available now are largely dependent on the delivery of hydrogen gas tanks, methanol or other fuel sources to power the fuel cells.

Kuik said the success of the testing will be dependent on a number of variables. “If the system fails, it will switch over to the national grid, so this will measure the capacity and efficiency of the system,” he said.

Digi, which is 49 per cent owned by Norway’s Telenor, received a grant from the Green Technical Working Group under the Malaysia Technical Standard Forum, which is funded by the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission.