According to reports, as part of its efforts to create a ‘green’ mobile network and reduce carbon footprint, telecom infrastructure firm Viom Networks aims to run about 25-30% of its towers on alternate resources in the next 2 years.
“We are targetting to run over 2,000 towers on solar power in the next two years. Our target is to run over 25-30% on alternate energy sources in the same period,” Viom Networks President Umang Das told PTI.
He added that their solar-based projects have resulted in reduction of diesel consumption by around 50%.
Viom has conducted electrolysis-based fuel cells trials and is also exploring the possibility of using piped natural gas to run their sites.
The company operates over 38,000 towers in the country.
“The outcome of all these initaitives is very encouraging and these are being appreciated by our customers,” he said.
According to estimates, the Indian telecom tower industry has about 3.5 lakh towers and over Rs 8,500 crore is spent a year on diesel to run these sites.
“Diesel is an expensive fuel with high cost of movement as well as storage that brings with it issues of safety and misuse. It is almost four times the cost of electricity board power supply,” Das said.
Increasing price of diesel and its misuse adds to the expenses of running the towers, say analysts.
Telecom regulator Trai has also made recommendations to promote use of energy efficient technologies to reduce carbon emissions.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, in a report, had said in the next five years, at least 50% of rural towers and 33% of urban towers are to be powered by hybrid power (renewable energy technologies) by 2015.
Further, all telecom products, equipments and services in the telecom network should be energy and performance assessed.
The Trai report has said while service providers should declare to the regulator the carbon footprint of their network operations, they should also aim at reducing carbon emission for the mobile network at 8% by FY13 and 12% by FY2015.
According to Trai, it is estimated that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector worldwide is responsible for around 2% of global CO2 emissions and by 2020, this would increase to about 3%.
The total emission of the Indian telecom industry is estimated to be around 1% of the country’s total CO2 emissions, according to the regulator.
However, the high initial capital to run telecom towers on alternate fuels acts as a deterrent.
“The high upfront cost and the accompanied technology risks have deterred roll outs and its large scale adoption,” Das said adding that continuity of service and affordibility are major concerns on standalone renewable energy solutions.