Mobile towers major air polluters
Nearly 60 percent of energy consumed by mobile towers is from diesel sets which naturally emit copious fumes. This effectively makes mobile towers major air polluters. For long, the issue has been in the background but not anymore — the number of mobile towers is so high there’s no option but to power them with renewable energy.
While there are hardly any guidelines on consumption of energy by these towers, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) gives clearance to telecommunication operators to set up towers depending on consumption of diesel and how they impact air quality.
There are around 4 lakh mobile towers in the country. Bangalore Telecom district alone has 1,180 sites where mobile towers are installed. A majority are owned, planned, installed and managed by BSNL.
“We comply strictly with radiation and safety norms set by the department of telecom. The energy demand for standalone 2G sites is about 12kW and for 2G + co-located 3G site is about 18kW. Power failures of up to six hours are met by onsite back-up battery sets. Power failures of longer duration are met by diesel generator sets which have an average diesel consumption of about 3.5 litres per hour, that’s an expenditure of about Rs 150 per hour. Last year, BSNL spent about Rs 3.3 lakh on DG sets,” principal general manager, BSNL, Subhendu Ghosh told TOI.
Greenpeace says the operational costs of these towers are exorbitant because they consume huge amounts of energy. “While 60 percent are dependent on diesel, 40 percent are grid based. These need to be phased out. The subsidy on diesel has been aggressively exploited by the telecom sector, resulting in an annual loss of around Rs 2,600 crore to the state exchequer, according to our estimates. A shift in power sourcing to renewable technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, will result in close to 300 percent reduction in total costs for telecom operators, in comparison to a diesel generator-based tower over ten years,” explained climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India, Mrinmoy Chattaraj.
Ghosh says: “Bangalore Telecom experimented with solar power at a few sites which showed considerable saving in energy bills. Normally, Bescom bills are between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 per month. The experiment proved that with solar power there’s a savings of about 60 percent on energy bills. A new concept of ‘free cooling’ is also being tested in which power consumption due to air-conditioners is substantially optimized to about 25 percent.” Trials are on towards solarizing towers in the BSNL network, he added.
Clean talk — Greenpeace report, ‘Dirty Talking — A case for telecom to shift from diesel to renewable’ says telecom sector in India emitted over 5.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2008 due to diesel use — Major private telecom players claim they’re trying to solarise towers but nothing has moved on ground — Ministry of new and renewable energy says telecom sector consumes 2 billion litres of diesel annually for its mobile towers which grew to 3 billion in 2011 at 30 percent growth rate — Karnataka State Pollution Control Board chairman A S Sadashivaiah says every mobile tower needs its approval since these emissions impact air quality
Posted on May 28, 2011, in NEWS and tagged Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, BSNL, Diesel generator, Electricity consumption, Greenpeace, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Renewable energy, World energy resources and consumption. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.