Renewable Energy for Mobile Towers

Access to mobile services, including mobile broadband, has helped unlock an array of new opportunities and services that are enhancing the livelihoods of the world’s most underserved populations, spurring economic growth and enabling the mobile industry to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In many low and middle-income countries (LMICs), access to mobile connectivity has been expedited by the expansion of mobile towers into areas either not connected to a national grid, or connected but receiving unreliable electrical power. In these locations, “off-grid” and “bad-grid” towers tend to rely on on-site diesel-powered generators for their operation, inflicting a measurable cost on the environment and the balance sheets of mobile network operators (MNOs). Over the last decade MNOs, tower companies (TowerCos) and other key stakeholders have been exploring various technology solutions to adopt renewable energy for these diesel-powered towers. However, our latest study highlights that 88 per cent of off-grid and bad-grid towers in LMICs are still powered by non-renewable sources.

As well as sharing insights and research, the GSMA CleanTech programme is working to bring together key stakeholders to collaboratively address the barriers to switching to renewable energy solutions. Creating industry-wide engagement platforms, the programme targets to create a community of thought leadership on driving change and adapting renewable energy solutions.

Renewable Energy for Mobile Towers: Opportunities for low- and middle-income countries

In this report, we examine the scale of the off-grid and bad-grid challenge in LMICs, and evaluate how the renewable energy landscape has changed since the GSMA published its 2014 report, Green Power for Mobile.

Through desk research, stakeholder interviews and analyses of seven renewable energy “lighthouse” countries, we provide a fresh perspective on the global trends and barriers currently influencing the deployment of renewable energy solutions. 

Download the report