Cell tower operators in India are increasingly looking to switch to renewable energy sources to reduce their costs and increase the reliability of their power supply.
One of the largest cell tower operators in India, Viom Networks, is reportedly working on reducing their consumption of diesel in an attempt to stop the use of diesel at 35% of its towers by the end of this year.
Indus Tower, the largest tower operator in India, plans to switch to natural cooling for its towers, which would reduce diesel and power used for air-conditioning. The company plans to convert half of its 111,000 towers from air-conditioning to natural cooling by the end of the year.
Several other companies are also believed to be working to reduce their diesel consumption by setting up small-scale renewable power systems at their tower sites. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had, in 2012, directed all cell tower companies to have 50% of their towers run on hybrid power in the rural areas and 30% in the urban areas.
Using diesel to power cell towers is not sustainable – environmentally as well as financially. Diesel prices in India are no longer regulated and change as per the international prices. While prices are down at the moment, they could increase in the future.
Power consumption of the telecom towers is only going to increase as Indian telecom operators look to enhance and adopt new technologies like 4G, and expand and strengthen network availability. According to various reports, telecom towers in India consume 11 billion kWh of electricity every year, which is expected to increase to 17 billion kWh by 2016. These towers are also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.