Green Telecom- The future of Telecommunications
Published 29th October 2010 - 5 comments - 2394 views -
"India is one of the biggest telecom markets in the world and more than 200 million rural subscribers are set to come into the picture in the next two-and-a-half years." The growth of the sector is directly proportional to the mounting costs for developing physical infrastructure and the Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs). The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector currently consumes approximately 2% of global carbon emissions, more than 2/3rd of which are generated by the network. An average mobile tower consumes 96 kW of power daily and in areas of weak power supply, diesel consumption can average 24 litres per day. Energy consumption is one of the leading drivers of operating expenses of about 35 percent of the total for both fixed and mobile network operators. There is huge capacity to reduce this percentage through energy efficiency and decreasing power consumption. To address these issues, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is under the process of preparing consultation paper on “green telecom” which offers guidance for the use of eco-friendly equipment in the ICT sector. The blog is expected to address critical issues like increasing carbon foot print-contribution of telecom industry, need for carbon credit policy for the sector, methods / options to reduce the carbon foot print by ICT industry in India, standardization of Green Telecom equipment and incentive for their adoption and framework for monitoring carbon emission and corrective action for telecom sector.
This makes the network operators to Go Green!!!! Many of the major operators have already identified the procedures of carbon trading and the benefits it entails. The telecom players are now investing huge in energy efficiency systems which will involve domestic trading scheme for energy efficiency certificate under the National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency under the NAPCC. And energy efficiency is directly linked to carbon emissions mitigation. By saving 2kW per hour at each site 1.6 kg of carbon per hour can be saved. With over 60,000 sites of telecom operates using this technology, more than 8,40,960 tonnes of carbon is being saved each year. The energy solutions companies are innovating on technologies that can reduce GHGs drastically, in process making the unit or the project eligible for carbon credits in large volumes.
Green technologies adopted by telecom operators
While Mobile becomes a basic need in India, developing telecom infrastructure especially in rural areas has become a challenge for the telecom operators and consultancies due to the unreliable power supply. At this point, solar thermal and solar photo voltaic (PV) cells seems to be promising in realizing the goal of indigenizing these technologies in India with steep reduction in costs and in parity with the objectives of the National Solar Mission. Solar Technology is the only long term sustainable and inexhaustible alternate energy. Technology for harnessing the solar energy is now well proven and established. In this the telecom towers are powered with solar PV cells which uses sunlight to generate electricity and reduce the dependence on conventional power and other conventional fuels. According a study, on an average, installation of solar PV cells can lead to reduction of 2.5 tons of CO2 emission per tower every year. The other technology supplement to pure solar energy solar solution is solar and diesel hybrid power solution which has minimum environmental impact and low maintenance rate. In this the power supply system uses solar energy and diesel generator to generate electricity in a complementary manner and provide the electricity generated to the site. The purpose of the hybrid power system is to cope with the solar energy power supply risk encountered when there is a long series of consecutive rainy days or when the peak sunshine hours fluctuate widely from month to month especially in moderate and cold climates in the country. Apart from the above explained there are several other in-house technologies, which the telecom operators are innovating for their sustainable business operations.
Some of the initiatives that telecom operators can take for “going green” are-
- using energy-efficient equipment for network systems powered by green energy
- using solar energy for the power supply
- using energy saving and environmentally friendly materials
- green supply chain packaging and logistics innovations
Few Ongoing Initiatives:
The green initiatives taken and are being under consideration by some of the telecom operators and consultancies are-
- Bharti Airtel is leading the way with solar energy. It is powering mobile towers with solar PV in remote rural areas in India. It has also entered a Joint Venture with ACME Tele Power for carbon credits. Airtel is also the first to operate its network on Energy Management System (EMS) which helps the company to slash its operating cost upto 40%.
- Huawei, a telecom infrastructure provider have developed innovative technologies which involve improving the power amplifier efficiency, raising the base station working temperature to eliminate the air-conditioning system, adopting the distributed and integrated central office and using the intelligent shutdown technology. It has launched SingleRAN solution based on the software-defined radio (SDR) system to simplify energy-using nodes and save energy by way of network convergence which has a potential of reducing 1.5 tons of CO2 per year per base station.
- Nokia Siemens Networks is in global collaboration with ACME TelePower to provide energy efficient radio cell site solutions to telecom operators.
- GTL Infra, a subsidiary of Mumbai-based Global Group, which has 32,500 towers, has already started moving from diesel to solar and other alternate sources of energy.
Telecom operators and infrastructure providers are already aware of the kind of benefits and advantage the energy efficiency and renewable energy provides and thus a major thrust in switching over to solar power is seen gradually. Energy efficiency, green innovative technologies and integration of renewable energy sources are the only options for the telecom industry to be a part of the low carbon growth for the country. According to an industry report, all of these factors and initiatives will continue to converge over the next several years, and "green" network equipment will grow to represent 46% of the $277 billion global telecom infrastructure market by 2013.
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