India’s Department of Telecom has introduced new rules that will call for 50% of all mobile towers in the country to use some kind of renewable energy power by 2015. In perhaps an even more ambitious target, the new rules also call for at least 20% of urban cell sites to use some form of renewable power source in addition to conventional grid power.
According to news report, the same rules will be expanded to 75% of rural towers and 33% of urban powers by 2020.
The move is targeted at reducing the country’s reliance on diesel generators, which currently power about 60% of all sites in the country. If enforced, the new regulations will be first in the world to require mobile operators to deploy renewable energy to power its networks.
Telecoms operators will get some support from the government in the form of the Universal Services Obligation fund. The regulations are not specific to onsite renewable energy systems however, and do not exclude renewable power sourced from India’s burgeoning renewable energy sector.
As part of its statement, the DoT estimates that renewable energy generation makes up about 11% of the country’s entire power base.