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Solar Power in the Communication Sector

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Power system reliability is critical for most communications applications and availability must be near 100 percent. Most systems are in remote locations with limited access and often with extreme weather conditions part of the year. For these reasons, PV systems are increasingly being used to supply power for telecommunication applications.

Solar diesel hybrid systems can also be sometimes used to reduce initial cost, particularly if the peak power demand is much greater than the average demand. In these system setups battery is critical and deep-cycle lead-acid batteries or nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries are recommended for this application. Lightning is a common problem that must be considered while designing a system for communication towers.


  • Two-Way Radio
  • Radio Communications
  • Telephone
  • Mobile Radio Systems


  • Utilities
  • Military
  • Government Agencies
  • Businesses

In India, more than a third of the PV capacity is devoted to the telecommunications sector. There is a vast potential for repeater stations for mobile phones powered by PV or PV/diesel hybrid systems.

Telecommunications companies are the prominent market segments looking toward renewable energy as they search for new solutions to power India’s nearly 250,000 telecom towers. These towers consume 3-5 kilowatts power depending on the number of operators using the tower and about 2 billion litres (about 530 million gallons) of diesel are used every year.  

Systems such as solar PV-based hybrid systems provide a less polluting alternative to diesel power, serve as a hedge against increasing diesel fuel prices, and help minimize the logistical challenges of transporting and storing diesel fuel at remote tower locations.

In addition, the government is planning to make it mandatory for mobile phone towers to be powered by solar energy, hoping to cut pollution and tamp down a key driver of diesel consumption in the country.


The telecom towers are also expected to scale up by another one lakh next year and it is important to note that the newer telephone towers are being installed based on a new technology that will consume less power and also do away with the air conditioning so critical to the telephone towers. Industry experts believe that for the older 3 lakh towers, grid power will be more economical than a solar powered tower.

But for the newer towers, where air conditioning is not a requisite, it makes more sense to use solar power, especially where the EB electricity is not available for considerable duration.

Know More Of Solar Solution To Support Different Loads


Here’s an example of one such case where diesel generators have effectively been replaced by a solar hybrid system.

Global solar energy major, SunEdison, in 2012-13, completed the Indian telecom industry's biggest solar installation at service provider Airtel's, Gangaganj Mobile Switching Centre. The solar unit is expected to save around 18,000 litres of diesel annually and more than Rs 5 lakhs/yeear in operating costs for Airtel. A complete case study document is available for download here.


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