Environmental Impact

Renewable energy solutions have positive environmental effects. Over 99% of cell sites worldwide are deployed with diesel generators as a backup or as the primary source of electrical power [1].

The major environmental impact of diesel generators is constant CO2 emissions during service life. A diesel generator used to power a BTS consumes about 18,000 litres of fuel per year. CO2 emission from one litre of diesel fuel is 2.68kg. This emits 46.5 metric tons of CO2 annually.

There are currently 10,233 renewable powered BTS which reduces carbon emissions globally by 480,000 metric tons per year.

For example, in Asia, the three large telecommunications providers namely: China Mobile, China Unicon and China Telecom have over 10,000 sites that operate without grid power[1]. If these telecoms companies were to use renewable energy as a primary energy resource, a carbon savings of 107,000 metric tons of CO2 per year could be achieved.

In September 2008, the GSMA Green Power for Mobile Programme was launched to accelerate the use of green power in the mobile industry. It plans to install new and retro-fit 118,000 off-grid BTS in developing countries by 2012 [2].

Similarly, In April 2010 the government of India initiated a programme to promote solar power in the telecom sector. Under this programme, between 30% and 50% of the cost of solar retrofits will be subsidised[1]. 250,000 towers are expected to benefit from the scheme.

Each of these programmes is a huge step towards green energy and carbon emission reduction in the telecommunication industry.

References used:

  1. Renewable Energy World Article, "Wind and Solar To Answer the Call for Mobiles" by Joe Madden,
    March 2011. available at: www.renewablenergyworld.com
  2. Green Power for mobile Deployment tracking available at: http://www.wirelessintelligence.com/green-power/

© 2011 MSc Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment Group Project