China-India partner to power telecom towers
May 12, 2011

At a time when Indian power equipment behemoth Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) is loosing ground on its own turf to Chinese equipment makers, Bangalore based Indo-Chinese 65:35 joint venture ALTA-XinTong Solar Tech Pvt Ltd is in the process of finalising a deal to sell 2,000 solar powered systems to power mobile phone towers. This joint-venture marks another major solar power initiative between the two emerging economies that are going green, and further reiterates Inchin Closer’s assessment that renewable energy is one of the next big ticket investment between India and China.

The initiative is part of New Delhi’s National Mission on Solar Energy which is aimed at shifting India’s  fossil-fuel based economy to renewable sources of energy as such solar and wind in view of the threat of climate change. The government set up a five-member panel last October headed by Ajay Bhattacharya of Universal Service Obligation Fund in the Telecom Ministry, which submitted a set of guidelines to suggest ways to promote renewable energy options in the sector. This is the result of the Panels decision.

“We are in advanced stages of finalising 2,000 solar power systems for leading tower companies in India under zero investment plan. We are in talks with major tower operators like Indus and GTL to provide the new system for their upcoming projects and shifting some of the existing towers from diesel system to solar system. The deployment of these solar power systems would create job opportunities for more than 70,000 skilled and semi-skilled technicians in India,” managing director E.M. Abdul Manaf told The Times of India.

According to Manaf, there are around 300,000 telecom sites in India guzzling fuel worth over Rs 6,400 crore (Rs 64 billion) every year, out of which over 30,000 are in off-grid rural locations. These 30,000 sites run on diesel 24 hours a day, by employing solar energy to run these telecom towers, ALTA-XinTong Solar Tech Pvt. Ltd. hopes to help telecom firms to cut costs, become more environmentally friendly, avoid high diesel transportation costs, diesel theft, diesel generator maintenance costs and save fuel. Around 9,000 cell phone towers in China are already being powered by XinTong’s solar power systems.

The company has entered into tie-up with an international financial institution to provide an investment plan to the tower operators, zero investment plan. Under the plan, the financial institution would provide loan for investment, through which the tower operators could avail the system without making up-front investment.

Like SunBorne Energy , this joint venture company sources solar panels and batteries from Indian sources and imports controls from China.

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