Vodafone India is switching off the air-conditioning and improving ventilation at its telecom towers to cut energy consumption costs and carbon emission. The change, which is a work in progress, saves nearly a quarter of the energy consumed at each site, but comes with some capital expenditure to increase ventilation at these locations, a company spokesman said in an email.
These are not specially designed base stations but have been in use for years. The discovery that they can run without air-conditioning is new. "These stations were set up with aircons because at that time it was the way all telecom equipment was set up by everyone," said a company executive, who did not want to be named.
The conversion to a more energy efficient model requires some capital expenditure on aligning windows and creating vents, but once done the base stations at the towers will require no artificial cooling. Vodafone has already implemented the change at 10% of the towers, said the company statement.
In the last financial year, with this step and some other green initiatives the company managed to reduce diesel consumption by 4.8 million litres and carbon emission by 8,500 tonnes, said a sustainability report published by the company.
"We cannot commit on the number we will roll out by the end of this year, because that also depends on the execution of Indus Towers, but we will implement one of our green projects at all the towers we own within the next couple of years," said the executive. Vodafone India uses about 110,000 towers of which nearly 80% are from Indus Towers—a joint venture company between Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular that owns towers meant to be shared by all operators. Indus Towers is the country's largest tower company.
Apart from ventilation cooling, Vodafone uses hybrid solutions with diesel generators and batteries working in alternate modes; variable speed diesel generators; inverters at indoor sites; fuel catalysts which increase the combustion capability of fuel. "We have successfully deployed solar solution at 146 off grid sites resulting in 75% reduction in diesel generator run time," said a company statement.