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DoT asks PricewaterhouseCoopers to chart carbon credit policy for telecom firms

According to reports, the telecom department has asked PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to evolve a carbon credit policy for mobile phone companies in addition to evaluating the technocommercial feasibility of powering 3.5 lakh telecom towers with green or “renewable” energy.

PwC India will suggest by end of February how telcos can check diesel dependence and reduce carbon footprint and also earn carbon credits by feeding clean energy into the national grid in the next six years.

The matter was recently discussed at a meeting where senior telecom department (DoT) officials and representatives of the consulting major, mobile operators, tower companies and the ministry of new & renewable energy (MNRE) were present.

“The government wants telecom companies to ensure a substantial chunk of power consumed by telecom towers in rural and urban areas is fed back into the national grid in the form of renewable energy by 2020,” said a senior executive of a leading tower company who was present in the meeting.

“PwC has been asked to assess carbon footprint reduction targets mandated by DoT and also evolve a carbon credit policy in line with carbon credit norms and international best practices in the telecom sector,” the official added.

A key issue would be evolving a mechanism for telcos to earn carbon credit certificates after carbon reduction targets have been met. But the consultant has sought more time from DoT, given the complexity of the task. “PwC has indicated it will submit its final report by end-February 2014, instead of the original January 15 deadline, owing to the complexity of data and analysis involved,” says a DoT note seen by ET.

The DoT note also reveals that PwC has managed to collect only 60 per cent of the tower data relating to renewable energy deployments so far. It is yet to receive the requisite tower data from public sector telcos like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the note shows.

Last September, PwC’s Indian arm was engaged by the telecom industry in consultation with DoT to examine the feasibility of powering mobile towers with alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass or fuel cells, and also whether there is a case for viability gap funding.

India’s green policy requires telcos to migrate 50 per cent of all towers in rural areas and 20 per cent in urban areas to hybrid power by 2015. By 2020, operators will need to run 75 per cent and 33 per cent of cell towers in rural and urban zones, respectively, on hybrid supplies.

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