India's Idea Cellular to try solar-plus-fuel cell systems at telecom sites
Dec 5, 2013 - Indian telecom operator Idea Cellular will engage in a pilot project to deploy solar hybrid methanol-based fuel cells at telecom sites at home thanks to an over USD-1-million (EUR 733,000) US grant.
The company, part of Aditya Birla Group, will receive the funding from the US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA). This, according to a report by the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) from Tuesday, is the first grant for a green telecom project in India by the agency. The financing agreement has been struck on Monday.
As a start, Idea Cellular will evaluate the economic, technical and financial feasibility of installing methanol-based fuel cell systems to power off-grid telecom towers at five sites.
By 2015 telecom operators in India have to use hybrid sources -- power from the grid combined with solar, wind, biomass or fuel cell systems -- to power at least 50% of cell towers in rural regions and 20% of their equipment in urban areas. Under the government's rule, these percentages jump to 75% for rural and 33% for urban zones in 2020.
At the end of September newspaper The Economic Times said, citing a telecom department official, that the Indian government is mulling over the introduction of viability gap funding (VGF) to back the installation of renewable power systems at telecom tower sites.