GSMA gets with the green program

22 Sep 2008

The GSM Association has climbed onto the green networks bandwagon, setting up a program to promote the deployment of clean energy-powered base stations.

It has set a target of 118,000 base stations to be powered by solar, wind or biofuels in four years, up from the 1,500 today.

The association has set aside some cash in its development fund to back the program, which is very much for the developing world and rural areas in particular.

Most of the growth potential for mobile lies in the countrysides of India, Russia, Africa and Latin America. These areas also have the most uncertain power supplies, if they have them at all.

Using wind or solar is quite cost-effective because of the low opex. They're virtually "set and forget", not requiring expensive truck rolls to cart fuel.

GSMA says some 6.3 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon emissions will have been avoided if its 2012 target is met.

In one sense the association is merely pushing at an open door. The technologies are certainly there, and comms vendors like Nokia Siemens and Ericssion have been quite active in promoting their energy-efficient and renewables-powered networks.

Mindful of the soaring cost of diesel and grid power, vendors have also been making networks more energy-efficient. The biggest toll on power is the air-conditioning, so base stations are now made so they are more tolerant of higher temperatures.

The GSMA's involvement is aimed at smoothing some of the complexity in the supply chain, which involves the clean-tech equipment firms, power solutions providers, network equipment vendors and operators.

About a third of the 25 operators in the program are Asian-based, including Bharti, Idea, Indosat, Grameenphone and Telenor Pakistan.

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