Reliance Jio Infocomm is a key adopter among other telecom tower companies that are finding value in installing lithium-ion batteries for uninterrupted power supply to their towers. Compared to traditional options, these batteries are said to be much more durable, cost-effective and environment friendly due to its power storage technology.
Benefits of Adopting Lithium-ion Batteries
Energy costs account for about 1/3rd of network operating expenses incurred by tower companies. Finding sustainable ways to reduce this could significantly help improve profitability.
Also known as li-ion batteries, these are known to have more than twice the life of traditional lead-acid alternatives. Furthermore, using these to power cell phone towers help bring down the cost of storing electricity to about INR16-17 per unit as compared to the original cost of INR22 per unit.
Batteries are typically used to store and supply electricity to telecom power in case of a grid power failure. Also, if the battery life is longer, the need for these towers to rely on expensive generators that run on diesel further reduces.
Going Green at Reliance Jio
A spokesperson from Reliance Jio said, “Li-ion batteries have definite technical advantages in terms of power to weight to volume ratio, absence of pollutants like acid and lead, (and) longer life.” The Spokesperson also confirmed installation of li-ion batteries across 25,000 of its towers. He adds, “Thus, Reliance Jio towers are classified as green towers as they have lower overall energy requirement and are completely non-polluting.”
A spokesperson at installation partners for Reliance Jio and alternate energy solutions providers ACME Cleantech further affirmed that li-ion batters will also be installed in all 70,000-100,000 towers that the operator intends to set up across India.
Manoj Kumar Upadhyay, Founder and Chairman of ACME Group said, “They will have advantage of lower energy cost over energy cost of current towers. It is one of the best initiatives taken by them.”
Cross Industry Acceptance of Li-ion Batteries
While Reliance Jio has taken the lead, many other telecom operators are treading on the same path. Most operators are at different levels of deployment and are testing issues related to longevity.
As per the Chief Executive of Bharti Infratel, the telecom tower unit of Bharti Airtel, DS Rawat, the company is currently testing li-ion batteries since this technology looks more promising than traditional storage solutions. This is true especially in areas that experience fluctuations in grid power.
Apart from having operations in 11 telecom circles through over 36,000 towers, Bharti Infratel also has a 42% stake in Indus Towers. With over 114,000 facilities across 15 circles in the country, Indus is the world’s largest tower provider.
DS Rawat said, “We are piloting li-ion and we have 50 sites already where we have deployed li-ion batteries for power storage in Infratel standalone. Similarly, Indus Towers is also trialing in their respective circles.” He further adds, “It has fast-charging capability which we believe will be a big plus but the entire business case also rests on how long these batteries last.”
Director General of the Tower and Infrastructure Providers’ Assciation, Umag Das says that about 10,000 Li-ion battery modules have been deployed across various other tower companies and operators in India.