Directionless green telecom policy will hamper Carbon emission targets

By Telecom Lead Team:
The India government wants telecom service providers to achieve major milestones
to reduce Carbon emissions. The telecom ministry is silent about obligations of
telecom operators if they do not meet these targets. The current guidelines are
not adequate as the ministry is also not offering any incentive to mobile
industry to invest in green telecom infrastructure.

Solar power is still 4x more expensive than DG power and
many more times more than Grid. This will certainly change in the future with
increasing scale and higher cost for fossil fuels. Without incentives,
telecom sector will be cagey about further investment in green telecom.

According to a TRAI statement, service providers should aim
at Carbon emission reduction targets for the mobile network at 5 percent by the
year 2012-2013, 8 percent by the year 2014-2015, 12 percent by the year
2016-2017 and 17 percent by the year 2018-2019.

At present, majority of telecom operators have not prepared
their green plans. In the Carbon Disclosure Project’s recent report ,
none of the telecom companies feature in its top 100 Indian companies.
Similarly, in the fortune 500 list of telecom companies on transparency and
disclosure, none
of the Indian telecom companies feature on this list.

The renewable energy industry is yet to gear up for meeting
additional demands from the telecom sector. However, the government regulation
asking telecom service providers to power at least 50 percent of all rural
towers and 20 percent of the urban towers by hybrid power (renewable energy
technologies and grid power) resources by 2015 will boost investment in
renewable energy in India.

Telecom operators, as per the new directive, need to use
hybrid power for 75 percent of rural towers and 33 percent of urban towers by

The Government has struck a proper balance between a
practical approach and a concern for environment. Even a 25 percent shift from
Diesel to a hybrid technology can save a humungous amount of perhaps in the
region of $10 bn in its oil import Bill, considering that the Telecom sector is
the country’s largest consumer of Diesel today at over 3000 TBD perday. I think
this is import first step” said Bala K Chandran of Electro Power Systems SpA.

Recently, Greenpeace asked Indian telecom operators to shift
the sourcing of 50 percent of their energy requirements towards renewable
energy sources and phase out diesel use in their business operations by 2015.

According to a statement from Telecom Regulatory Authority
of India, all telecom products, equipments and services in the telecom network
should be certified Green Passport (GP) by the year 2015. Telecommunication
Engineering Centre will certify telecom products, equipments and services on
the basis of ECR ratings.

The statement says all telecom service providers should
declare to TRAI, the carbon footprint of their network operations. The
Declaration of the carbon footprints should be done twice in a year.

Service providers should adopt a Voluntary Code of Practice
encompassing energy efficient Network Planning, infra-sharing, deployment of
energy efficient technologies and adoption of Renewable Energy Technology (RET)
to reduce carbon footprints.

Service providers should evolve a -Carbon Credit Policy’ in
line with carbon credit norms with the ultimate objective of achieving a
maximum of 50 percent over the carbon footprint levels of the Base Year (2011)
in rural areas and 2 achieving a maximum of 66 percent over the carbon
footprint levels of the Base Year in urban areas by the year 2020.

Though majority of Indian operators are slow in adopting
green, Robi Axiata, a leading service provider in Bangladesh, has reduced CO2
Emission by 30 percent in 2010. This was mainly done through introduction of
new technologies; Voltage & Temperature Monitoring system to reduce use of
Generator, Intelligent Ventilation System to replace A/C and modernization of
BTS with a less power hungry new generation. Robi Axiata Bangladesh will
be expanding the intelligent ventilation system. It will be experimenting with
use of alternative energy sources.

India needs more strong and stringent policies to guide the
telecom industry to adopt green standards. The current policy is not effective.


By Baburajan K

[email protected]