Thursday, July 26, 2007

Indian Telcos Going Green


Erratic power supply in rural areas is pushing more and more Indian telcos to alternate energy to power their towers. Early this year Idea Cellular announced that it was looking at bio-diesel to power some of its rural cellular base stations. The fad apparently is catching on.

The Trend Catches On

Ericsson AB has already set up 4 towers running on fish and vegetable oils, for Idea Cellular in the power-strapped Maharashtra circle.

Reliance Communications is tapping wind and solar power. While it has already installed windmills on its towers at Kunustara and Murugathal near Durgapur in West Bengal, it is in talks with Pune-based solar cell manufacturer Machinocraft on the solar power front.

"On a rough estimate, a wind power turbine or a solar panel mounted on towers will generate around 1,800-2,000 watts during peak sunshine hours or high-windy days. Of this, the repeater sites consume up to 500 watt each, while the remaining is stored in batteries and used to power the network at night or low windy times."

Hutch is also looking at wind power, while BSNL and MTNL are "experimenting with multiple sources like solar, wind, gobar gas and biofuel from molasses."

Potential Impact

In most cases the alternate energy sources replace diesel gensets which are currently almost universally used to ensure uninterrupted power supply at the base stations. So the shift will certainly save petroleum and prevent emissions.

In the big picture the financial and environmental impacts will be very small, but it will be a good experience for Indian corporate houses, and the alternate energy culture in general. The villages will get exposed to alternate energy too and that should help adoption in these areas.