Solar energy use in celltowers can reduce CO2 emissions: Study

With the number of mobile phone users in the country swelling rapidly, telecom operaters are going in for more and high intensity cellphone towers for better network efficiency entailing a massive consumption of diesel --- about 2 billion every year --- for power generation to run them, resulting in carbon emissions totalling an estimated five million tons, says a study released by 'Future Energy' periodical published by Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA).

The country has at present about 250,000 cellphone towers each of which use 3-5 kilowatts of power depending on the number of operators using them.

"Together these towers use more than two billion litres of diesel every year for power generation. Apart from this fuel is also spent for cooling the equipment. If all these cellphone towers use solar energy then it could save a great amount of fossil fuels as well as reduce carbon emissions," it said.

The study noted that cellphone towers are "energy intensive" as they use power non-stop without interruption.

"Air conditioning of the equipment housed in the nearby hubs also takes up substantial amounts of energy. Thus any change in the power generation method of cellphone towers would make tremendous impact in terms of resource saving and reduction in carbon emissions.

With telecom operators looking to expand operations in rural areas, even more telecom towers are set to come up," it said.

Considering the estimates predicting that India will have a billion cell phone subscribers by 2015, it is "extremely essential" that the policy mooted by the Central ministry of new and renewable energy, to energise cell phone towers using solar energy is implemented "as soon as possible" to reduce strain on already scarce resources.

The total carbon emissions from diesel used for cell phone towers is estimated by the study at 5.3 million tons or 11.76 billion pounds while the cost of diesel every year at an average price, is calculated at USD 1.4 billion equivalent to Rs 6,400 crore.

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