Thursday, January 17, 2013

Solar Energy for BTS Telecom towers–Gigantic energy conservation being overlooked

Energy shortage, dependency on fossil fuels, rising cost of energy and environmental pollution have become the biggest challenge in modern times. With limited resources and quick depletion of fossil fuel resources, the demand and supply situation is getting worse with each passing day.

Pakistan is having a huge market of mobile telephone and an ever increasing exponential growth in the mobile sector. The telecom equipment needed to support the growth of telecom has also increased; so is the use of BTS (Base Transceiver Station) towers. With thousands of BTS installed all over the country, average consumption of electricity of these BTS is moving from huge to humongous.

Currently BTS towers depends on On-Grid power which is provided by WAPDA, however with increasing loads shedding, Telecom companies installs around 10-20KVA of generators on all BTS sites to keep the BTS telecom tower alive during load shedding hours for consumer communication needs.

Currently only Telenor has more than 7000 sites operational all over the country (a Telenor employ who do not want to be named told). The data is also available on PTA site which has not been update in the last 1 or 2 years or so.
Pakistan is facing an average 6-8 hours of load shedding each day. Each of the BTS station takes an average of around 3-4kWh of total load.
A total of minimum 21 MW of electricity is being consumed by only one telecom operator per Hour. This means 378MW of electricity is being consumed each day by one Telecom operator (assuming 18hours of electricity being used from Grid).
This is just one side of the electricity consumption,  Diesel generator used as a backup for BTS towers runs an average of around 4-6 hours each day, they not only put burden on financial exchequer of the government but, also responsible for noise and air pollution in terms of carbon foot print.
If only 30% of this electricity consumption of grid (WAPDA) can be saved by installing renewable energy sources like Solar or wind, Pakistan can save around 110MW/day of electricity just from one telecom operator. Around 500MW of electricity per day can be saved just by converting 30% of the already use grid electricity of all telecom operators’ BTS tower towards Solar renewable energy system.
Pakistan, being close to equator, is exposed to enormous sunshine for maximum part of the year. Hence solar energy is available in abundance in most part of the country. A study by USAID reveals the fact that the average solar radiation in different part of the country is significant enough to generate almost 3 to 6 KW of energy per sq.m. / Hour.

Converting BTS towers to renewable energy is a win-win situation even for the Telecom companies. The payback period of solar renewable energy is mere 13-15 years when compared with On-Grid electricity (WAPDA), and after that this energy is totally free. Even a 12th grade student can calculate the revenues of what telecom companies can really benefit from solar energy sources.

Government should play a vital to encourage the telecom companies towards renewable energies by giving some subsidy in terms to taxes or some other incentive, just like other developed countries.  Once under government support, solar energy would attract foreign and local investment, resulting in large network of local industries, suppliers and vendors.  More job opportunities will be created as a result of increased investment in solar industry reducing un-employment.

Note: All calculations are research is done by the author himself, and there might be a slight difference with the original result.


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Solar energy can help with electricity for BTS Telecom towers. You may think it won't help much with this particular type of system, but with so many solar panels being installed, they could help reduce electricity costs for towers with no need for batteries or back up power systems. Searching for a solution for improved energy efficiency for your mobile telecom tower? You may want to consider going solar with SunPower. Solar energy can provide a more environmentally friendly solution for a reliable phone system installer.

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