Green Tele­com

Go-green tar­get from DoT to mi­grate 50% of all cell tow­ers in ru­ral ar­eas and 20% in ur­ban ar­eas to hy­brid power by 2015 has hit a tough spot as the in­dus­try finds it ‘un­re­al­is­tic’ and ‘non-im­ple­mentable’. Voice&Data zooms into the re­al­ity of green teleco

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Long Way to Go...

The ad­vent of 3G and 4G net­works has put the In­dian tele­com in­dus­try in a sweet spot, with data consumption grow­ing sig­nif­i­cantly and boost­ing the bot­tom­line of the tele­com ser­vice providers, but at the same time the de­vel­op­ment has also led to a rise in CO2 emis­sion from the sec­tor.

The CO2 emis­sion level from the In­dian mo­bile tele­com sec­tor jumped more than 70% over the past two-three years and in 2014-15, it ac­counted for 58.3 mil­lion tons and to­tal of about 836 gi­ga­joules of pri­mary en­ergy was con­sumed dur­ing the spec­i­fied pe­riod, which is equiv­a­lent to 73 bil­lion units, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at Cen­ter for Study of Science, Tech­nol­ogy and Pol­icy (CSTEP).

Al­though, it is way be­hind the power sec­tor, en­ergy-in­ten­sive in­dus­trial sec­tors or trans­port sec­tor but it is a con­cern be- cause of the ris­ing mo­bile sub­scrip­tions in the coun­try, which are ex­pected to grow ex­po­nen­tially in the near fu­ture, and that would re­quire consumption of enor­mous amount of en­ergy.

Mean­while, the con­cept of green tele­com has been around for long, but has not taken off fully, at least not yet. Out of the 6,50,000 tele­com tow­ers in the coun­try, only 75,000 are diesel free sites to­day, while close to 4,500 are op­er­at­ing on hy­brid mod­els.

In the Smart 2020 Re­port, the Cli­mate Group and the Global E-Sus­tain­abil­ity Ini­tia­tive have out­lined that by 2020, the car­bon emis­sions from the global tele­com sec­tor will dou­ble from the base line of 2002, in spite of ex­ist­ing and ex­pected tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions like smart charges and ef­fi­cient ra­dio and trans­mis­sion sys­tem.

In In­dia, the sit­u­a­tion will be far more se­ri­ous con­sid­er­ing that the tele­com sec­tor is an­tic­i­pated to grow ex­po­nen­tially. With 3G be­com­ing per­va­sive, the en­ergy de­mand will in­crease by two–three folds at least be­cause data trans­fer would con­sume more en­ergy and the in­tro­duc­tion of 4G, with a speed trans­fer rate 10 times

The CO2 emis­sion from In­dian mo­bile tele­com sec­tor ac­counted for 58.3 mn tons in 201415, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at CSTEP.

higher than the 3G, will fur­ther sub­stan­tially in­crease the en­ergy consumption pat­terns of the tele­com sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to NGO Green­peace.

“In­dia is the sec­ond largest GHG (green house gases) emit­ter in the ICT in­dus­try glob­ally, af­ter China, which in turn has pro­pelled huge ex­pan­sion in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture within a nar­row model – fixed lines, broad­band lines and mo­bile tow­ers, lead­ing to the huge consumption of elec­tric­ity,” a Greep­eace study states.

How­ever, ar­gu­ing against this, Ra­jan S Mathews, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of COAI, a GSM lobby group, says: “In­dia’s share in the global ICT foot­print is much lesser with 1.43% slice of ICT likely by 2020. The tele­com sec­tor in In­dia con­trib­utes to neg­li­gi­ble amount of GHG emis­sion. The CO2 emis­sions from the In­dian tele­com sec­tor are neg­li­gi­ble as the sec­tor is al­ready on the green track and diesel consumption by mo­bile tow­ers is only 1.5% of the coun­try’s to­tal consumption.”

The mo­bile tow­ers for GSM ser­vices typ­i­cally con­sume power in the range of 1 to 4 MW an­nu­ally, while CDMA ser­vices are rel­a­tively bet­ter. How­ever, only 5055% of this en­ergy is uti­lized for ac­tual ser­vice de­liv­ery, while the rest is di­verted in cool­ing of the base trans­mis­sion sta­tions and charg­ing of un­in­ter­rupted power sup­ply sys­tems (UPS).

The ac­tual uti­liza­tion of the net­work equip­ment is the ma­jor con­stituent of CO2 emis­sion in the tele­com net­work. But at the same time, the cut in power consumption could be af­fected by pru­dent net­work plan­ning, ef­fec­tive in­frashar­ing and adap­ta­tion of en­ergy ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies, use of re­new­able en­ergy sources and ef­fec­tive use of re­new­able en­ergy sources among oth­ers.

As per a Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter study, in the tele­com net­work, the com­po­nents that con­trib­ute to car­bon emis­sions are the Ra­dio Ac­cess Net­work, Fixed line net­work, Fiber to the x net­works in the ac­cess net­works, the core, ag­gre­ga­tors and the trans­mis­sion sys­tems in the cen­tral core net­work.

“Base trans­ceiver sta­tion di­vi­sion of the mo­bile in­dus­try is the chief con­trib­u­tor of CO2 emis­sions – when com­pared to man­u­fac­tur­ing and util­ity di­vi­sions of mo­bile phones,” add re­searchers at CSTEP.

Un­re­al­is­tic Go-Green Laws

The Depart­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (DoT) had asked tel­cos to make at least 50% of all cell tow­ers in ru­ral ar­eas and 20% in ur­ban ar­eas com­pli­ant to hy­brid power (re­new­able en­ergy tech­nolo­gies and grid power) by 2015, while 75% of ru­ral tow­ers and 33% of ur­ban tow­ers are to be pow­ered by hy­brid power by 2020.

But th­ese tar­gets look un­achiev­able, as there is not suf­fi­cient in­cen­tive for the tower and tele­com com­pa­nies to make the huge in­vest­ments. nor is it backed by a vi­able busi­ness model.

With 3G be­com­ing per­va­sive, the en­ergy de­mand will in­crease by two–three folds at least be­cause data trans­fer would con­sume more en­ergy and the in­tro­duc­tion of 4G, with a speed trans­fer rate 10 times higher than the 3G, will fur­ther sub­stan­tially in­crease the en­ergy consumption pat­terns of the tele­com sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to NGO Green­peace.

T R Dua, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral at TAIPA (Tower and In­fra­struc­ture Providers As­so­ci­a­tion) says, “The DoT green di­rec­tives are highly am­bi­tious, non-re­al­is­tic and non-im­ple­mentable. The in­fra­struc­ture providers de­ploy tower and en­ergy to power a small part of the to­tal tele­com net­works which in­cludes ra­dio ac­cess net­work, switch­ing equip­ment, trans­mis­sion equip­ment, servers and other as­so­ci­ated equip­ment.”

As per the di­rec­tives by 2014-15, the ser­vice providers should achieve a car­bon re­duc­tion of 8% and go to 17% re­duc­tion in the next five years.

Echo­ing sim­i­lar views, Ma­hesh Up­pal, Di­rec­tor, Com First (In­dia), says: “The tar­gets are dif­fi­cult to achieve in the ab­sence of suf­fi­cient in­cen­tives, tech­nol­ogy break­throughs, among oth­ers. So­lar en­ergy is still un­vi­able for most ap­pli­ca­tions and now with fall­ing oil prices, cleaner en­ergy has be­come tougher.”

Fur­ther the di­rec­tives state mul­ti­ple tar­gets that look im­pos­si­ble. It should have been a sin­gle re­duc­tion tar­get in direct car­bon emis­sions, think many in the in­dus­try.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of th­ese di­rec­tives re­quire huge in­vest­ments of about Rs 66,000 crore by 2020 and is dif­fi­cult for the in­dus­try to ex­e­cute with­out the gov­ern­ment sup­port. Fur­ther, the onus of de­liv­er­ing the power lies with the sep­a­rate body,” says Dua.

Umang Das, Vice Chair­man, TAIPA, adds, “When we say ‘green tele­com’, the whole idea is en­sur­ing a re­duc­tion in the consumption of diesel, the com­bi­na­tion of re­newal en­ergy model and bet­ter grid power. So, cur­rently, about 30% of tow­ers are run­ning diesel-free but the re­al­ity is site by site so­lu­tions are not mov­ing or have not be­come vi­able. Though there is

The DoT green di­rec­tives are highly am­bi­tious, non-re­al­is­tic and non-im­ple­mentable. The di­rec­tives state mul­ti­ple tar­gets, which are highly im­pos­si­ble and it should have been tar­geted on a sin­gle tar­get of re­duc­tion in direct car­bon emis­sion. The...

—Ra­jan S. Mathews Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, COAI In­dia’s na­tional elec­tric­ity grid cur­rently meets barely 33% of the en­ergy needs of this in­dus­try. There­fore, the in­dus­try is forced to ad­dress the deficit by other en­ergy sources avail­able to them, which is a...

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