Idea Cellular, leading cellular operator in India, has been awarded a Grant of over USD 1 million from the US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA), to fund a pilot involving deployment of Solar Hybrid Methanol Based Fuel Cell (SHMBFC) at telecom sites in India.
This is the first ever funding of a green telecom project in India by the USTDA, Idea said. It demonstrates the active collaboration between the U.S. government and the U.S. and Indian private sectors to advance clean energy in India.
The funding will be supported by ICF International (Fairfax, VA), which will undertake a feasibility study and pilot project that will assess the technical, economic and financial feasibility of deploying methanol based fuel cell (SHMBFC) systems that provide continuous and uninterruptible power to off grid telecom towers at five sites belonging to Idea.
The project aims to assist Idea Cellular’s effort to replace stationary diesel engines by demonstrating SHMBFC technology at five telecom tower sites using 2.5 and 5.0 kilowatt fuel cell units.
“India has a growing need for new sources of cleaner energy. Ultimately, this pilot project intends to demonstrate the viability of replacing diesel generators with fuel cell power systems not only at telecom towers, but also at other sites throughout the country that require reliable back-up power solutions such as hospitals, data centers and commercial areas,” said USTDA director Leocadia I. Zak.
Projects like these directly support U.S. government policy priorities to promote domestic energy production, rural electrification, and cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels in India, said Ambassador Nancy Powell during the signing ceremony.
Accepting the grant, Himanshu Kapania, managing director, Idea Cellular said the grant offered by the USTDA will further spur the company’s efforts toward reducing carbon emissions from telecom infrastructure in the country.