The Indian government has ordered telcos to use renewable energy sources to decrease their dependence on costly diesel used by the towers that supply mobile phone reception to India's population.
According to Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora, the government had approved the Green Energy recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). This was in a written reply to India's house of representatives, the Lok Sabha, on Wednesday.
Under the new rules, by 2015, hybrid power--a combination of renewable energy technologies (RET) and grid power--must constitute 50 percent of the energy source for rural towers and 20 per cent for urban towers. By 2020, this ratio will grow to 75 percent for rural towers and 33 percent for urban towers.
Also by 2020, telcos are expected to halve their carbon footprint in rural areas, and in the urban areas the towers should emit just one third of the carbon, as compared to base amounts measured in 2011.
They can use carbon credits to offset their emissions, and targets will be applied retrospectively from 2012.
To monitor this, service providers must declare their entire network's CO2 emissions bi-annually, and should aim to reduce this by five per cent for FY13, which ends on March 31. This percentage gradually increases to 17 per cent by FY19.
According to a report in The Hindu Business Line, Deora also revealed the country's 585,000 mobile towers consumed 5.12 billion litres of diesel a year.
This is based on a TRAI calculation that each tower consumes about 8,760 liters of diesel every year, if it used the fuel for eight hours per day.
The carbon emissions are estimated to be around 10 megatonne (Mt), according to the report.
The calculations assume that diesel is primarily used as a back up power source for mobile towers, but the minister said there was no actual data for the overall consumption.