Low-carbon growth plan for telecom – not so easy

Posted on June 13, 2011 by

The contribution of telecom sector to India’s carbon emissions is significant. TRAI has come out with a guideline paper for green growth in telecom. NGO’s such as Greenpeace have stressed the need for renewable energy to fuel the sustained growth to ensure that the growth of telecom sector is a low-carbon and sustainable one.

Greenpeace has been in talks with the telecom giant Bharti Airtel over disclosing its carbon emissions, reducing diesel consumption for telecom tower operations and phasing it out eventually. Sadly, the talks have not been able to reach any conclusion so far. Greenpeace has been protesting against Bharti for not disclosing its carbon footprint and measures for reducing the same. The cost effective measures for lowering carbon emissions include energy efficieny and deployment of RE sources for telecom infrastructure.

Greenpeace India Campaign Director Divya Raghunandan in her statement said “It is unfortunate that Airtel failed to agree to our demands and thus there was no headway in the meeting. We are urging the company to reconsider its stand on the issue and come out clean in the public.” On the other hand, Bharti says that it has started an initiative named the “GreenTowers P7” that targets reduction in diesel usage. Bharti says “Once completed, the initiative will reduce diesel consumption by 66 million litres per year with a significant carbon-dioxide reduction of around 1.5 lakhs metric tonnes per year.”

The Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) is working with international body GSMA to formulate and standardize a protocol to measure carbon emissions and steps that can be taken to reduce it at the industry level. It is also in the interest of the telecom operators to reduce their dependence on the fossil fuels and switch to cleaner and cost-effective options, as the power bill is currently the biggest cost driver for these players. Balancing the costs, carbon footprint and reliability in operations is the key issue telecom operators are facing right now. It will require a technological innovation and support from MNRE to make the switch happen at significant scale.


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