LONDON The GSM Association has launched its Green Power for Mobile initiative, ensuring that environmental issues remain high on the agenda for the mobile sector.
The goal is to promote the use renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or sustainable biofuels, and to power 118,000 new and existing off grid base stations in developing countries by 2012.
The industry body says that achieving this target would save up to 2.5 billion liters of diesel per year and cut annual carbon emissions by up to 6.3 million tonnes.
The GSMA which represents the mobile comms industry forecasts that by 2012 up to 50 percent of new off-grid base stations in the developing world could be powered by renewable energy.
Backed by 25 mobile operators, the initiative will provide a variety of support and expertise to promote the deployment of such "green" base stations.
"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 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 minimize environmental damage."
The Association's 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 organization estimates 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 Development Fund is already working with several mobile operators to develop renewable power solutions for a variety of base stations located in diverse geographies. For example, 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.
And after a successful pilot in conjunction with the GSMA and Ericsson, Indian operator Idea Cellular now uses waste cooking oil to help power more than 350 base stations in the state of Andhra Pradesh, where the conventional electricity supply can be erratic. The base stations run on a blend made up of 80 percent diesel and 20 percent waste cooking oil.
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