The African arm of India’s Bharti Airtel has announced plans to eliminate dependence on diesel generators at its tower sites by 2013. Airtel is introducing a mix of hybrid battery banks, solar and wind energy to supply its towers: to date, the company claims to have reduced the number of sites relying solely on diesel generators across its 16 African operations by 60%. Airtel’s chief technical officer, Eben Albertyn said: ‘We are doing this by connecting these sites to grid electricity in areas where this option is feasible. Where it is not, we are exploring alternative forms of power supply, which include hybrid battery banks and solar/wind power.’ Hybrid batteries store excess energy produced by the diesel generators, powering the site when the generator is turned off. Albertyn added that Airtel has installed solar power generators to 105 sites in Niger, reducing the use of diesel generators down to just ‘three to four hours.’
The move will allow the Indian company to reduce its impact on the environment by reducing the carbon emissions of its infrastructure. In addition, the use of green energy will reduce the operating costs of the sites by reducing the amount spent on diesel. The telco claims that its Ugandan arm alone spends more than UGX1 billion (USD400,753) per month on fuelling its off-grid sites.