TRAI said the CO2 emission level from the Indian mobile telecom sector rose by more than 70 percent over the past two-three years. In 2014-2015, the CO2 emission level accounted for 58.3 million tons and a total of approx 836 giga joules of primary energy was consumed during the period, which is equivalent to 73 billion units.
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“These numbers indicate that it is imperative to adopt new technologies to reduce the energy consumption and the corresponding CO2 emissions,” said TRAI.
Telecom operator investment in 3G networks will enhance the energy demand by 2-3 folds because data transfer would consume more energy. The introduction of 4G, with a speed transfer rate 10 times higher than the 3G, will substantially increase the energy consumption patterns of the telecom sector.
The foremost share of the CO2 emission in the ICT infrastructure is during the use of the network equipment and devices.
The components that contribute to carbon emission footprint include the Radio Access Network (RAN), Data Centers, fixed-line network, the Core network, aggregator, transmission system and Fiber to the network (mainly in Access network) etc.
Out of the 450,000 telecom towers in India, only 90,000 are diesel free sites as on December 2016.
Out of 150,030 cell towers, 37,262 Airtel towers now run on less or optimized diesel consumption which includes 3,501 sites powered by solar. This implies about 2.3 percent of towers are powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
Indus towers, the joint venture between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, is set to invest over Rs 500 crore on green initiatives. This joint venture already manages about 1.23 lakhs towers out of which approx 60,000 sites are diesel free and approx 1,000 sites run on solar as on December 2016.
By 2020, ICT is expected to account for about 3 percent of global GHG emissions worldwide. It is estimated that the ICT sector worldwide is responsible for around 2 percent of global GHG emissions and for around 0.7 percent of global CO2 emissions.
For fixed ICT networks, it is estimated that the share of GHG emissions will be around 1.4 percent in 2020. Though GHG emissions due to mobile ICT networks are increasing, they remain significantly smaller than those attributable to fixed ICT networks.
It is estimated that mobile networks will grow faster than fixed networks and will contribute about 0.5 percent of the global GHG emissions by 2020.
The main contributing sectors within the ICT industry include the energy requirements of PCs and monitors (40 percent), data centers (23 percent), and fixed & mobile telecommunications that contribute 24 percent of the total emissions.
Going Green has become a business necessity for telecom operators with energy costs becoming as large as 25 percent of total network operation costs. A communications company spends nearly 1 percent of its revenues on energy.