Of the world’s 6.8 billion people only 4 billion are already using mobile phones. The next 2 billion mobile phone users will come from rural areas, largely in developing countries, and tapping this rural developing market will require new and different infrastructure. While infrastructure for very low cost coverage solutions is nearing readiness, a key challenge is achieving mobile voice coverage in rural areas without reliable power.

Over 99% of cell sites worldwide are deployed with diesel generators as a backup or as the primary source of electrical power. But the operating expense involved in keeping the diesel fuel flowing can be prohibitive, especially in light of increasingly remote base station sites and rising theft of diesel fuel and generators.

Economics has favoured diesel generators due to their low capital cost, but as the cost of diesel fuel has risen and the cost of solar panels and wind turbines has dropped, the return on investment (ROI) equation is changing. It is now set to flip in favour of renewable energy by 2014 – when the payback of the cost of an off-grid renewable power plant will have dropped to less than a year.

Government agencies around the world are proactively promoting the use of renewable energy and such programmes are expected to create a supply chain with sufficient scale to bring down costs, create high-quality products, and eventually export green power solutions to developing nations.

By 2015, an installed base of 1.9 million mobile telecom sites will be candidates for green power upgrades or retrofits, with a compelling ROI driving operators to choose solar power and wind power.

source: renewableenergyworld