September 18, 2008
GSMA Launches Renewable Energy Push For Mobile Networks
NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The GSMA today launched the Green Power for Mobile programme with the goal of helping the mobile industry use renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or sustainable biofuels(1), to power 118,000 new and existing off-grid base stations in developing countries by 2012. Achieving that target would save up to 2.5 billion litres of diesel per annum and cut annual carbon emissions by up to 6.3 million tonnes.
The GSMA, the global trade body for the mobile industry, forecasts that by 2012 up to 50% of new off-grid base stations in the developing world could be powered by renewable energy. Backed by 25 mobile operators, the Green Power for Mobile programme will provide expertise to support the deployment of base stations that use renewable energy. Up to now, off-grid base stations have primarily been powered by generators running on diesel fuel, which is increasingly expensive, generates carbon dioxide emissions, and can be difficult to transport to remote locations.
"As they strive to bring the benefits of mobile coverage to as many people as possible, operators need to find reliable, sustainable and economic sources of power far beyond the reach of national electricity grids," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA. "Through our Development Fund, the GSMA has built deep expertise in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources that mobile operators can tap to help them connect the unconnected, reduce operating costs and minimise environmental damage."
Following extensive research with mobile operators, the GSMA Development Fund estimates that only 1,500 base stations worldwide are powered by at least one form of renewable energy. Challenges to date have included commercial viability, equipment availability and lack of expertise, but the GSMA's research suggests that rising diesel prices and falling renewable equipment costs mean that operators investing in green power sources for base stations could recoup the capital costs in as little as 24 months.
The GSMA Development Fund is already working with several mobile operators to develop renewable power solutions for a variety of base stations located in diverse geographies. The Development Fund has supported Digicel's deployment of wind and solar energy to power 17 new base stations on the Pacific island of Vanuatu.
"As oil becomes more scarce and expensive, renewable energy will be used more and more to power telecommunications networks anywhere that grid power is not available," said John Delves, CEO of Digicel Vanuatu. "Using alternative power solutions, such as harnessing wind and solar energy, will help lower our operational expenditure and reduce our environmental impact, giving people in the more remote islands of Vanuatu access to communications for the first time."
After a successful pilot in conjunction with the GSMA Development Fund and Ericsson, Idea Cellular now uses waste cooking oil to help power more than 350 base stations in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, where the conventional electricity supply can be erratic. The base stations run on a blend made up of 80% diesel fuel and 20% waste cooking oil.
"If we can secure enough vegetable oils from sustainable sources, we will move to a blend of 50% diesel and 50% biofuels, which will be better for the environment and for our operating costs," said Anil K Tandan, Chief Technology Officer of Idea. "We are also exploring other alternative sources of power as we seek to ensure that our mobile network continues to be reliable, sustainable and cost-effective."
The major suppliers of base stations have anticipated the growing demand for green networks and have introduced a variety of low-energy products as well as renewable energy power solutions. New entrants are also emerging, providing tailored bolt-on power solutions for base stations. The GSMA is developing metrics for "green" base stations, to support operators in their decision-making on providers and products.
Today, the operators involved in the Green Power for Mobile programme are meeting in Kenya, hosted by Safaricom, a leader in the use of renewable energy for networks with 30 base stations powered by solar and wind energy.
As well as supporting operators with experts in the field, the GSMA Development Fund has also launched a Web site [http://www.gsmworld.com/greenpower] providing a wealth of information on the viability of a range of renewable energy solutions in different environments.
About the GSMA:
The GSM Association (GSMA) is the global trade group representing more than 750 GSM mobile operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. The Association's members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections -- over 86% of the world's mobile phone connections. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association's initiatives.
The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, while creating new business opportunities for operators and their suppliers.
(1) Biofuels which are (a) produced from feedstocks that have been grown on idle and marginal land that has not been deforested for the purpose of biofuel crop plantation, (b) result in lower carbon emissions than diesel when calculated on a whole of life basis and taking into account the effect of land use changes and (c) are produced in a manner that contributes to the social and economic development of local, rural and indigenous peoples and communities.
The GSM Association
CONTACT: Mark Smith, David Pringle of GSM Association, [email protected]
Web Site: http://www.gsmworld.com/greenpower