Mobile TeleEnergy, in partnership with leading global corporations, is helping telecom companies in India concentrate on their core business by taking the worry off power supply to their mobile towers through renewable solar and wind energy.

The power needs of telecom towers depend on the number of operators. Typically, each operator requires 1.5 KW per hour of power depending on the base transceiver station (BTS) equipment.

The geographical spread of telecom towers in Inida is 60 per cent in rural areas and 40 per cent in urban areas, but around 30 per cent of the telecom sites in the rural areas do not have a reliable energy source and the electricity supply ranges from eight to 12 hours per day. So telecom cell sites in remote locations rely mostly on diesel for an uptime of 99.99 per cent.

 Over 467,000 Mobile Towers: India has around 467,000 Telecom towers across the country, a large number of which are not connected to the electricity grid. An equally large number do not have access to reliable electricity, implying they have to install backup power systems in order to run the twoers without interruptions.

Diesel Generators have been the preferred choice of Telecom operators despite their high carbon imprint. This is because of the ease of buying and installing diesel generators as well as the lower fuel costs as the government in India heavily subsidizes diesel. Currently, most Telecom towers use diesel generators, making the industry the second-largest user of diesel in the country.

 

 Telecom towers in the country are estimated to burn 2  billion litres of diesel (around 500 million barrels) annually at a cost of Rs 70 billion, equivalent to US $ 1.4 billion to run 350,000 towers.  Apart from such huge cost, India’s telecom towers are producing carbon emissions of the order of 5.3 million tonnes (approximately) annually

 New policy initiatives: The Government is now coming down heavily on the Telecom companies. In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of the Telecom sector by reducing its dependence on diesel, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a direction to the telecom service providers to ensure that at least 50% of all telecom towers in rural areas and 20% in urban areas should run on hybrid power — a combination of renewable energy and grid power — by 2015.

 By 2020, the share of hybrid power — which means a mix of renewable energy technologies and grid power — has to be increased to 75 per cent and 33 per cent in rural and urban areas respectively.

The directives were approved by the Government in January 2012.

Service providers have also been told to declare the carbon footprint of the network operations to TRAI twice a year. According to TRAI guidelines, service providers should aim at carbon emission reduction targets for the mobile network at 5 percent by the year 2012-2013, 8 percent by the year 2014-2015, 12 percent by the year 2016-2017 and 17 percent by the year 2018-2019.

  Green Passport: The TRAI also wants all telecom products, equipment and services in the telecom network to be certified ‘Green Passport’ by 2015. Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), a body under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), will certify telecom products, equipment and services on the basis of ECR ratings.

 TRAI has also advised service providers to adopt a Voluntary Code of Practice encompassing energy efficient Network Planning, infra-sharing, deployment of energy efficient technologies and adoption of Renewable Energy Technology to reduce carbon footprints.

It hassuggested that the service providers evolve a carbon credit policy with the objective of achieving a maximum of 50% over the carbon footprint levels of the base year (2011) in rural areas and a maximum of 66 percent over the carbon footprint levels of the Base Year in urban areas by the year 2020.

The Renewable Energy Ministry had asked telecom companies to reduce their dependency on conventional fuels and consider alternatives for partly powering telecom towers. While the government has been encouraging the operators to convert these towers to using renewable energy forms, most of them have been very slow to implement this change.

Drain on revenues: The use of diesel generators also has operational efficiency implications for the telecom operators.  In fact, diesel accounts for 60 ‐ 70% of the cost and 80 ‐ 90% of the volatility in the annual operational expenditure of the operators. The wireless subscriber base in India grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 77.5% to reach 687.7 million subscribers in FY2011.

With increased competition, the revenues for carriers are under pressure and therefore efficient energy management is of critical importance to the success of Indian telecom operators.

The government regulation asking telecom service providers to power at least 50 per cent of all rural towers and 20 per cent of the urban towers by hybrid power (renewable energy technologies and grid power) resources by 2015 will boost investment in renewable energy in India, says Anand Vardhan, Founder of Mobile TeleEnergy Pvt Ltd.

“The Government has struck a proper balance between practical approach and a concern for environment. Even a 25 percent shift from diesel to a hybrid technology can save a humungous amount — perhaps in the region of $10 billion — in the oil import bill, considering that the Telecom sector is the country’s largest consumer of diesel today at over 3000 TBD per day.”
 — Anand Vardhan

 

Mobile TeleEnergy Solution: The solutions offered by Mobile TeleEnergy are of vital importance to India’s telecom industry. The company’s solar power systems would support the telcos to switch their existing towers from diesel to solar power-based, reducing the dependency on diesel and other energy inefficient systems.