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Diesel used for telecom towers causing Rs 2.6Kcr loss to Indian govt

Panchabuta has opined that the potential for solar lies in the offgrid applications. We have been talking about the immense potential in the telecom space-particularly in the rural telecom and telecom tower space.

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.

 Panchabuta has earlier reported that, 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.

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.

In a major step recently, the government announced that as many as 400 telecom towers will be powered by solar panels. The towers, which will get started in April in a Rs. 120-crore project  under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), will kick off in  Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and involve state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and tower infrastructure firm GTL and Indus Towers.

Since Indus Towers  India’s largest cell phone tower company owning more than 110,000 towers and owned by Bharti, Vodafone  and Idea cellular with Bharati and Vodafone announced that the company has launched a plan to power 2500 towers using Solar in an initial program.

Most recently, Alta-Xintong Solar Tech Pvt Ltd, launched DC solar power systems for power telecom towers in India and targets to sell 2000 solar power systems by the end of this year.

According to reports, Global NGO Greenpeace yesterday said diesel consumed by telecom companies for providing power at telecom towers is causing an estimated loss of Rs 2,600 crore annually to the government in form of subsidy.

“For telecom operators, there is a robust case to switch to renewable energy. The government should not give subsidy to telecom companies on diesel. Subsidy makes sense if it is given to poor people of the country,” Abhishek Pratap, Senior Campaigner, Climate and Energy, Greenpeace India said.

The report released by the NGO is based on research over information available in public domain.

It says at current growth rates, the sector would require 26 billion kilowatt of electricity and 3 billion litres of diesel by 2012 which will enhance carbon emission from the country to significant level.

Subsidy of Rs 7 to Rs 11 per litre on diesel reduces the cost of the fuel by around 21 per cent, allowing it to be sold at a lower price primarily for the transportation of essential goods, public transport and agriculture.

Due to absence of duel or differential pricing of diesel fuel for industry, telecom sector aggressively exploited as sector consumption of diesel grown to 300 crore litres by FY11-end, the report said.

Climate and Energy campaigner of Greenpeace Mrinmoy Chattoraj said the telecom sector can become a transformative force by adopting renewable energy for their business operations and advocating economy wide climate and energy solutions.

“The telecom sector is well positioned to transit to a low-carbon growth trajectory. They must use their influence to promote policies that will allow them to grow responsibly without helping to fuel climate change,” Chattaraj said.

Greenpeace estimated that shift in power sourcing to renewable technologies, such as solar photo-voltaic, will result in a close to 300 per cent reduction in total costs for telecom operators, in comparison to a diesel generator (DG) based tower over 10 years.

Pratap said telecom sector spend Rs 12,600 crore annually on diesel fuel and on removing subsidy of 21 per cent from diesel cost of diesel fuel for telecom sector would go to Rs 15,200 crore annually.

“The 10 years expenses of telecom companies on diesel is equivalent to the cost of powering 5 lakh telecom towers by solar energy solutions,” Pratap said.

The report estimates investment of Rs 1,51,000 crore will be need to power the entire telecom towers in the country.

Pratap also charged Indian telecom companies of hiding facts on their carbon emission footprint.

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