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Green Commitment: Vodafone India’s steps to create a more energy efficient ecosystem

November 18, 2014
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The unprecedented growth in the telecom sector has been made possible by the roll-out of multiple telecom networks in the country. However, even as the telecom base has expanded over the years, the energy requirement for tower sites and network operations has grown manifold. This, coupled with a poor power scenario, and the economic and environmental costs of diesel, has made operators turn to more sustainable practices and energy efficient systems. Vodafone India is one such operator that is committed to bringing down its energy consumption significantly. Its recently released Sustainability Report 2013-14 highlights several steps that have been initiated and implemented by Vodafone India to make its network energy efficient and reduce its overall carbon footprint.

Colocation of sites: As of March 2014, Vodafone India had a network footprint of 119,923 base stations, of which 106,160 sites (89 per cent of the network) are colocated with other operators and third-party tower company sites. The sharing of resources has resulted in a significant reduction in energy consumption.

Green sites: A total of 17,580 sites of Vodafone India’s 106,160 partner sites have been declared as green sites. The deployment of innovative solutions, latest battery technology and close monitoring of sites have led to the diesel-free operation of towers in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Surat.

Hybrid solutions: Vodafone India was able to reduce diesel consumption at its sites by 50 per cent during 2013-14. This was made possible by deploying hybrid solutions with intelligent controllers across 300 of its owned sites, which took Vodafone’s total hybrid sites across the country to 3,000.

Indoor-outdoor conversion: By strategically converting its sites from indoor to outdoor, Vodafone India eliminated the use of air conditioners at 729 sites, resulting in a 17 per cent (2,542 tonnes) decrease in carbon emissions during 2013-14. So far, 1,700 of all Vodafone India-owned sites have been converted from indoor to outdoor. At 1,000 indoor sites, the company has deployed free cooling units, which shut off the air conditioner when the ambient temperature is favourable, thus reducing the need for air conditioning. This effort was extended by Vodafone India to its partner tower companies as well, resulting in the conversion of 11,539 indoor sites to outdoor, recording a decrease of 57,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Solar-powered sites: Vodafone India has been successfully harnessing solar energy since 2010 to run its towers. During 2013-14, it deployed solar solutions at 161 sites, thereby increasing the total solar-powered site count to 405 off-grid and poor grid sites. This has resulted in a substantial 75 per cent reduction in diesel generator run-time at these sites.

Green IT: Vodafone India has made conscious efforts to make its operations greener and more efficient with the adoption of sustainable practices and new technologies. To reduce its travel footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as increase productivity, the operator promotes the use of video conferencing as an alternative to travelling for meetings both inter and intra-city. During 2013-14, the company increased the number of video conferencing sessions by approximately 60 per cent, leading to a reduction of 15,762 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Further, over 1,089 operating system instances have been virtualised against 1,490 physical hardware servers, and 129 physical operating system instances have been deactivated, resulting in a reduction of 24 per cent in physical servers. This initiative has generated an annual reduction of 54.43 gigajoule (GJ) of energy consumption and 12.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The consolidation of databases by clubbing smaller databases has also relieved unused resources – 17 databases have been consolidated so far, resulting in energy savings of about 94.6 GJ and a carbon footprint reduction of 21.5 tonnes per annum. Further, Vodafone India has initiated defragmentation, re-indexing and optimisation of the recycle bin, which has led to 696 terabytes of storage capacity reduction and 1,104 GJ of energy consumption reduction, thereby reducing CO2 emissions by 251.4 tonnes per annum.

Vodafone India has also worked with its suppliers and partners to deploy energy-efficient cooling systems at its data centres, which use recycled water, instead of only air conditioners, to maintain the desired temperature conditions. This has resulted in a reduction in the overall peak demand for electric power and reduced GHG emissions. The operator saves approximately 53,918 GJ of energy per year due to the efficient cooling systems.

Going forward

The fourth edition of the report reaffirms the company’s commitment to establishing a greener telecom ecosystem in India. Further, these initiatives will help the Vodafone Group achieve its energy reduction target for emerging markets, which  involves reducing CO2 emissions per network node by 20 per cent by March 2015 (against the 2010-11 baseline). Through the conscious efforts of Vodafone India and others, the group has already reduced its emissions per network node by 19 per cent, to 15 tonnes of CO2, and is likely to meet the target next year.

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