The Indian telecom industry which accounts for around 1% of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions – higher than the global standard of 0.7% – would have to aggressively push for green energy solutions as emerging technologies like 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) artificial intelligence etc are expected to significantly increase the energy consumption of the sector.
The move towards 5G is expected to increase the total network energy consumption by 150%-170% by 2026 globally.
Telecom towers continued to register a volume share in commercial diesel gensets (DG) consumption – accounting for massive 51% approx in 2018. The cost of diesel genset powering is 80%-120% more than electricity.
It is challenging for telcos to run diesel free sites because grid power is not available 100% of the time while the companies are required, as per TRAI, to provide an uptime of 99.5% or else get penalized.
Despite the challenges, over 25% of the telecom sites have been made diesel free and the industry is working on the remainder portion.
To reduce diesel usage at sites with intermittent and erratic power supply, tower companies are deploying efficient storage solutions such as Li-ion batteries, advanced VRLA batteries, flow batteries and thermal energy-based solutions.
However solar power cannot be used as a standalone solution because, it is less reliable and provides energy supply for merely 5-6 hours.
In other instances, wind energy is also witnessing traction and is being deployed on rural sites in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, etc.
The tower industry body, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) said that the companies are also exploring fuel cell systems, hybrid solutions (combination of solar PV batteries, DG and batteries) besides solutions such as solar, wind and biomass in pursuance of reducing costs.
Reference- Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association website, Economic Times