To power India’s telecom sector, RE is a must – says Greenpeace

Posted on May 19, 2011 by

Greenpeace recently released a report titled “Dirty Talking – A Case for telecom to shift from diesel to renewable”. The report states that the subsidy on diesel has been exploited by the telecom sector resulting in an annual loss of around Rs 2600 crore to the state exchequer.

The telecom sector is in news recently due to tremendous growth in it’s operations, the growing energy need and resulting carbon footprint. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released its recommendations on “Approach Towards Green Telecommunications”. The Greenpeace report uses the previous industry and government research to estimate the future carbon footprint of the sector. It is projected that at current growth rates, Indian telecom sector will require 26 billion units of electricity and 3 billion liters of diesel by 2012.

Renewable Energy and significant gains in the energy efficiency are the only options that will allow the sector to control the rampant CO2 emission and resulting contribution to global warming. Mrinmoy Chattaraj of Greenpeace India, co-author of the report says  “With growth, the sector’s appetite for energy will increase, making it a significant source of GHG emissions unless the industry adopts and advocates renewable energy use and backs laws to cut global warming.”

Stressing the need of shifting to renewable sources for managing the energy demand growth and carbon footprint,  Chattaraj said “The Telecom sector is well positioned to transit to a low-carbon growth trajectory. They must use their influence to promote policies that will allow them to grow responsibly without helping to fuel climate change.”

A summary of the report is as under

  • In 2008, the use of diesel contributed 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the telecom sector. There has since been a continuous growth in the sector’s diesel-led emissions. The sector is expected to continue on the path of rising emissions with little or no shift towards renewables/energy efficiency.
  • Over a ten-year timeframe, a shift to renewable technologies such as solar PV will result in a close to 300 per cent reduction capital and operating expenses as compared to a diesel generator (DG).
  • The industry has not been consistent in disclosing the carbon emissions and committing to reduction of emissions in a public and transparent manner.
  • The shift of the sourcing the power requirements to renewable sources has started – but it is not significant yet. The required investment for powering the telecom network towers in India with renewables is around $30 billion. This investment is still more economically attractive than diesel based network towers in the longer run.

Abhishek Pratap, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace India says “For telecom operators, the business case for a significant switch to renewable energy is a robust one. Quite clearly the question for the Indian telecom industry to respond to is- Are they willing to shift, in the interest of environment and indeed their long-term business prospects?”

Greenpeace, as a part of its ongoing campaign, is appealing the telecom operators become more transparent in disclosing their annual carbon emissions and power half of their mobile towers by renewable energy by 2015.

Source :


  1. The 2600 crores of loss to exchequer is calculated on the basis of a subsidy of INR 7 to 11 per liter of diesel multiplied by the consumption of the diesel.
  2. There will be around 797,000 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) by end of 2012. Each BTS consumes 32,734 units of electricity annually, a cumulative figure from mobile towers comes over 26 billions of units by 2012.
  3. MNRE’s report in 2008, states that telecom sector consumes 2 billion liters of diesel annually for running mobile towers. The growth rate of 30% per annum pegs it to 3 billion in year 2011.
  4. The attractiveness of solar as compared to diesel has been analyzed and established by considering the un-subsidized cost of diesel and the fact that to solarize there is only initial cost and marginal or no recurring cost.

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