According to reports, the Department of Telecom will make it mandatory for mobile companies to tap into renewable sources of energy for powering their towers.
Under the new rules, at least 50 per cent of towers and 20 per cent of the urban towers are to be powered by hybrid energy sources (renewable +grid) by 2015.
This will have to be scaled up to 75 per cent of rural towers and 33 per cent in urban areas by 2020.
The move is aimed at reducing the carbon emissions due to increased dependence on diesel. India has around 3.5 lakh telecom towers of which about 70 per cent are in rural areas. At present, 40 per cent power requirements are met by grid electricity and 60 per cent by diesel generators.
The diesel generators are of 10-15 KVA capacity and consume about 2 litres of diesel an hour and produce 2.63 kg of CO2 a litre, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The total consumption is 2 billion litres of diesel and 5.3 million litres of CO2 is produced. For every KWH of grid electricity consumed, 0.84 kg of CO2 is emitted. Total CO2 emission is around 5 million tonnes of CO2 due to diesel consumption and around 8 million tonnes due to power grid per annum. To provide incentive to the tower companies, DoT sources said that there will be support from the Universal Services Obligation fund to meet the initial cost.
According to the telecom regulator, India’s current renewable energy base is 18,455 MW (11 per cent of total installed base). Market analysts said that the Government should evolve a system whereby tower companies can directly withdraw power from Renewable Energy Service Companies (RESCOs) instead of the grid. “This is a win-win proposal because the RESCOs are assured of steady revenues and for the tower companies, it means lower dependence on diesel,” said the analyst.