In order to reduce the usage of diesel, the Department of Telecom today said that it is converting 10,486 mobile towers using the fuel and connect it to electricity. A statement by the department said, “Around 10,486 non-electrified mobile towers spread across the country are being taken up under this scheme and significant progress is achieved in the electrification of non-electrified towers of BSNL and other telecom service providers.” The project is jointly launched by the Ministry of Power, NITI Aayog, Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and telecom industry under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, a 2015 scheme which aims to provide power supply to rural areas. The Ministry statement also added that 5,334 mobile towers from power grid have already been electrified so far. “As many as 4,796 (out of total 9,447) towers pertaining to TAIPA and 538 (out of total 1,039) towers of BSNL were electrified by March 31, 2017,” it said. This electrification process would reduce diesel consumption at the base transceiver station (BTS) sites.
This is not the first time the Ministry has made a move to switch to renewable energy, according to the Indian Express. In 2012, it had asked the telecom operators to run 50 per cent of rural towers and 20 per cent of urban towers on hybrid energy, a combination of renewable energy technologies (RET) like wind and water, and grid power. However, the telecom companies had responded that this was not feasible due to operational constraints. Bharti Airtel had outright said that it cannot stop using diesel because the country lacked the infrastructure for grid electricity, especially in rural areas.
You may also like to watch
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in a letter to Trai had said, “Wherever possible, rechargeable batteries are preferred. However, use of rechargeable batteries too is largely dependent on electricity supply from the grid which unfortunately is inadequate and erratic, especially in rural areas. It may thus be appreciated that most often, companies have no choice but to depend on diesel supply in order to ensure uninterrupted service to consumers.”