According to a study released by ‘Future Energy’ periodical published by Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), use of diesel generators in cellphone towers leads to a staggering five million tonnes of annual carbon emissions in India and there is a need to replace them with solar panel. With the number of mobile phone users in the country swelling rapidly, telecom operators are going in for more high-intensity cellphone towers for better network efficiency entailing a massive consumption of diesel — about two billion litres every year — for power generation to run them, said the study.
This is resulting in carbon emissions totalling over five million tonnes, it said.
The country at present has about 250,000 cellphone towers each of which use 3-5 kilowatts of power depending on the number of operators using them.
“Together, these towers use more than two billion litres of diesel every year for power generation. Apart from this, fuel is also spent for cooling the equipment. If all these cellphone towers use solar energy then it could save a great amount of fossil fuels as well as reduce carbon emissions,” the study said.
The total carbon emissions from diesel used for cellphone towers is estimated by the study at 5.3 million tonnes or 11.76 billion pounds while the cost of diesel every year at an average price is calculated at USD 1.4 billion (equivalent to Rs 6,400 crore).
The department of telecom (DoT) plans to provide subsidies and incentives to operators using renewable energy.
Some of the incentives include 30 per cent subsidy on the total cost of making 200 towers eco-friendly in a certain area and supporting the rollout of eco-friendly towers in rural areas.
“With many telecom towers set in rural areas where power is a major problem, diesel has become the major source to provide continuous telephone network. Renewable energy solutions such as solar cells or hydrofuels will ensure that at least the power requirements of the towers in rural areas are solved,” a DoT official said.
As Panchabuta has earlier reported, a proposal is being finalized by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) that is aimed at containing the use of polluting diesel generators to provide back-up power for cellphone towers.
As Panchabuta has mentioned before, there has been a lot of activity in the cell phone tower space with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) awarding a tender for powering Cellphone sites using Solar Energy in Western Uttar Pradesh in India. Soon after, Air Liquide announced of a pilot project with Bharti Airtel to run telecom towers using hydrogen and most recently, Electro Power Systems Italy announced the launch of ElectroSelf, the first self-recharging fuel cell system in India for backup power for telecom towers. Recently, a new solar power system designed specifically for the Indian telecom market has been launched by Eltek Valere, a provider of high efficiency power systems.