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Chief Technical Officer Essay

1398 words - 6 pages

HEADING: The Green Towers Revolution INTRO: Beset by technical and energy issues, the solar power system remains the only economically viable and tested solution for the telecom tower industry The telecom towers burnt about 2 billion liters of diesel and produced 5.3 million tons of Co2 in 2010. It should not come as a surprise that these diesel guzzling giants will consume 2.8 billion liters and produce 7.4 million tons of Co2 by 2015. It just goes to show that the telecom tower industry has evolved into the second largest consumer of diesel – next only to the Indian railways. The tower industry’s rapid growth resulted in tower companies adopting diesel-powered systems at telecom sites. ...view middle of the document...

The recommendations in the white paper were farsighted but the execution of them left a lot to be desired because technical expertise to evaluate the kind of solar system to be adapted was lacking in the organizations. Some tower companies ended up trying as many as 10 different solar solution providers without any success. The status quo continued until early mid-2011, when the general public and Green Peace movement started putting pressure on stakeholders to switch over to a more eco-friendly power source. MNRE came up with a scheme to subsidize 30 per cent of 400 solar-powered sites but unfortunately, only 75 sites were officially taken up by tower companies.

Unsustainable Business Model Tower companies are finding it increasingly difficult to pass on the hidden cost for diesel theft, transportation, DG maintenance and battery replacement to mobile operators. The current tower company business model is dependent on the number of tenants per site as their only source of revenue. According to industry estimates, the break-even ratio is 1.7 tenants per site. Many tower companies are barely getting by, the high upfront investment outlay (~Rs 30 lakh) for new sites. The long payback period of about eight years, with single tenancy, means tougher times ahead. A recent news report of tower companies up for sale is reflective of current market sentiment. Valuations for tower companies have been much lower compared to last year. The lack of technical expertise, high operational costs and diesel theft are serious issues affecting the viability of telecom tower business. These issues are difficult to resolve because of the huge numbers of towers spread out all over India. The Technology In China, the third generation fully integrated solar power system was developed out of necessity, because like India many remote regions in China are without grid power. Europe and US didn’t have these issues and there was no necessity to develop integrated off-grid solar powered systems for telecom towers. China is the only country in the world with more than 40,000 autonomous solar powered telecom sites operating in remote regions under extreme climatic conditions (-60 deg.C to +50 deg.C). They are the leaders in high-end, fully integrated autonomous solar power systems for telecom towers. The general perception about solar power systems in India is that all solar systems are having the same tech base and they will work, irrespective of the kind of systems adopted. Very few realize that telecom tower solar systems are the most complex of all solar systems. They involve integrating power supply from multiple power sources, solar panel, grid, battery and getting them to work in tandem.

Indigenized patent pending DC solar power systems would help reduce the use of diesel by converting the towers to run on solar.

Local solar solution providers are not confident that a solar system without DG is possible. Their half baked solar/DG solutions will not resolve...

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